The growth in Philippine agricultural production eased up a bit faster to 1.8 percent year-on-year at P202.3 billion in constant prices during the first quarter of 2015, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The growth figure for the first three months of the year was more than twice as fast as the 0.7 percent recorded in the same period of 2014.
PSA data showed that the output of all subsectors, except fisheries, expanded during the period.
In terms of current prices, production decreased by 1.6 percent to P380.1 billion—a hard fall from the 10.6-percent jump recorded in the first quarter of 2014.
This mirrored movements in average farmgate prices, which fell by 3.4 percent this year after surging by 9.9 percent during the same period last year.
The crops subsector, which represented 54 percent of total output value in constant prices, grew by 1.6 percent to reach P109.8 billion.
Palay farms alone, which represented 18 percent of total output, turned out P36.9 billion from 4.37 million tons of grain—the biggest value for any single farm product. Growth was pegged at 1.4 percent.
According to Agriculture Undersecretary Antonio Fleta, who heads the agriculture department’s rice program, the government wants to attain a 5.3-percent growth in palay production this year—higher than the average 3.2 percent recorded in 2011-2013.
“Though the DA’s technology adoption program, we expect high-yielding seeds to be planted in more than 560,000 hectares of rice fields all over the country,” said Fleta, referring to hybrid and certified seeds.
The PSA attributed this better harvest to the availability of subsidized seeds, as well as the sustained use of both hybrid and certified seeds.
Also, corn output grew by 4 percent to P17.6 billion during the period, while coconut production was flat at about P10 billion.
Sugarcane production decreased by 2.9 percent to about P9 billion while banana output rose by 4 percent also to P9 billion.
Growth in poultry production, accounting for about 15 percent of total output, revved up to 5.4 percent, from 1.3 percent, to settle at about P30 billion.
In particular, the PSA said, the rise in output was driven by gains in the number of broiler and native chicken processed in dressing plants.
Also, livestock production, which accounted for about 16 percent of the total, improved by 3.2 percent to P31.7 billion.
In fisheries—about 15 percent of nationwide output—the harvest decreased by 2.6 percent to settle at P30.5 billion.
Production of tilapia, the biggest contributor in fisheries, eased by 2.8 percent to P4.6 billion. The decrease worsened from last year’s 0.1 percent.
Also, production of milkfish eased by almost one percent to settle at P4.4 billion.
Farms in La Union suffered stunted growth of milkfish due to stagnant waters, while fishponds in Samar were still under rehabilitation. In Sultan Kudarat, insufficient water supply due to hot weather resulted in low stocking rate and low survival rate.