The Philippines has posted 2.92 percent growth in the agriculture sector or a gross amount of P1.4 trillion at current prices last year despite the weather disturbances that struck the country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the three subsectors, including crops, poultry and livestock, which accounted for about 82 percent of total farm output, posted a combined growth of 3.6 percent.
The fisheries subsector, which shared 18 percent to total production, dipped by 0.04 percent, mainly due to a 3.9 percent decline in municipal fish catch.
The crops subsector played a major role, despite the adverse effects of typhoons and floods last year, as palay (paddy rice) and corn posted record harvests of 18.03 million metric tons (MT) and 7.41 million MT, respectively.
Alcala said the record palay harvest, which was 8.1 percent more than the 2011 output of 16.68 million MT, was attributed to the 3.4 percent increase in total area harvested totaling 4.69 million hectares versus 4.54 million hectares in 2011. The 8.1 percent increase in palay harvest is the highest rate achieved since the year 2000.
He said more farmers were encouraged to plant immediately after the 2012 summer crop so they could harvest by August or September, and thereafter make a "Quick-Turn-Around" (QTA), or plant again on or before September.
"Our efforts are paying off, and we would like to implement similar early planting and QTA schemes and cover more areas this year, and attain our sufficiency target of 20 million MT by end of 2013," said the DA chief.
Further, the average harvest of palay per hectare increased by 4.3 percent to 3.84 MT from 3.68 MT in 2011. This was due to innovative schemes introduced by the DA to make high quality seeds accessible and affordable to farmers such as the registered starter seed packs, the community seed banks and the regional seed buffer stocking system.
Central Luzon has remained the country's rice granary, as it produced 3.22 million MT, 23 percent more than in 2011. The other major palay producers are: Cagayan Valley, with 2.43 million MT; Western Visayas (2.29 million MT); Ilocos (1.74 million MT); Soccsksargen (1.27 million MT); Bicol (1.17 million MT); and Mimaropa (1.03 million MT).
The country's farmers also harvested a record 7.41 million MT of corn, 6.25 percent more than the 2011 level of 6.97 million MT. This was mainly due to an increase in harvested area as farmers were encouraged to plant more because of high farmgate prices. Area harvested totaled 2.59 million hectares, 1.9 percent or 49,213 hectares more than last year’s 2.54 million hectares.
Also, average yield has increased by 4.2 percent to 2.86 MT per hectare, from 2.74 MT per hectare in 2011. This was due to farmers’ continued use of quality seeds (hybrid and OPV), adequate irrigation, and fertilizer application.
Other crops that performed well last year included tobacco (up by 7%), pineapple (6.7%), coconut (3.8%), and rubber (4%).
The total value of various crops produced in 2012 amounted to P797.7 billion at current prices, led by palay (P292 billion), banana (P108 billion), corn (P94 billion), coconut (P88.6 billion), and sugarcane (P42.3 billion).
The poultry subsector, which accounted for 14.3 percent of total farm output, grew by 4.5 percent, with a gross value of P167.1 billion. Chicken and chicken eggs recorded output gains of 4.6 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Likewise, production of duck and duck eggs has increased by 2 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.
Livestock production inched up by 1.1 percent, with a gross value of P214.3 billion. Hog production grew by 1.7 percent, valued at P174.5 billion. The livestock subsector shared 16percent to total farm output last year.
The fisheries subsector slightly dipped by 0.04 percent compared to 2011, as municipal fisheries production decreased by 3.9 percent. However, aquaculture harvest posted a 2.85 percent growth, while commercial fisheries increased by 0.23 percent. The fisheries subsector shared 18.2 percent to total farm output, and grossed P237.2 billion at current prices.
The DA through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has addressed the declining fishery production by enforcing timely "closed season" in targeted fishing areas to allow the regeneration of fish species and marine resources.
The DA-BFAR also encourages fishing communities to engage in aquasilviculture and rehabilitation of mangrove areas.