Q3 farm out­put weighs on over­all eco­nomic growth with first drop in seven quar­ters

Business World - - Front Page - R. J. N. Ig­na­cio

THE COUN­TRY’s agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion fell for the first time in seven quar­ters in the three months to Septem­ber amid the on­slaught of four storms, ac­cord­ing to data re­leased on Wed­nes­day by the Philip­pine Statis­tics Au­thor­ity (PSA), show­ing the sec­tor weighed on over­all eco­nomic growth for the same pe­riod which will be re­ported Thurs­day.

Farm out­put sank 0.83% in value terms last quar­ter, a re­ver­sal from a three-quar­ter­low 2.32% growth a year ago and the first con­trac­tion since the 1.11% drop recorded in 2016’s fourth quar­ter. Third-quar­ter farm data brought growth in the nine months to Septem­ber to a nearly flat 0.15%, com­pared to 4.64% in last year’s com­pa­ra­ble pe­riod and the 2.5-3.5% an­nual tar­get for the sec­tor un­der the 2017-2022 Philip­pine De­vel­op­ment Plan.

Agri­cul­ture pro­duc­tion has his­tor­i­cally con­trib­uted about a tenth to gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) and ac­counted for a fourth of em­ployed per­sons.

Q2 GDP ES­TI­MATE RE­VISED

The PSA on Wed­nes­day also up­graded sec­ondquar­ter GDP growth to 6.2% from six per­cent pre­vi­ously, on up­ward re­vi­sions to real es­tate, rent­ing and busi­ness ac­tiv­ity, min­ing and quar­ry­ing, and “other ser­vices”.

The up­dated sec­ond-quar­ter growth pushed up last se­mes­ter’s av­er­age eco­nomic ex­pan­sion slightly to 6.4% from 6.3% pre­vi­ously, but that still com­pared to 6.6% a year ago.

“We ex­pect GDP growth in Q3 to be higher than the first half re­vised growth of 6.4% — at least 6.5% — due to the 30% growth in NG (na­tional gov­ern­ment) ex­pen­di­tures and the 8.8% real growth in man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­duc­tion. We also ex­pect growth to be in­vest­ment- led due to the 47% rise in NG cap­i­tal out­lays,” Fi­nance Un­der­sec­re­tary Gil S. Beltran told re­porters in a mo­bile phone mes­sage.

CROPS

Pro­duc­tion of crops, which con­trib­uted 45.58% to to­tal value of agri­cul­tural out­put in the third quar­ter, fell 3.64% com­pared to a year-ago 5.24% in­crease, fuel­ing a 1.38% drop as of Septem­ber com­pared to an 8.38% hike in 2017’s com­pa­ra­ble nine months.

Weigh­ing par­tic­u­larly on crop and over­all farm out­put was a drop in pro­duc­tion of palay, which made the big­gest con­tri­bu­tion among in­di­vid­ual farm seg­ments at 16.17% of to­tal value. Palay pro­duc­tion fell by 5.7% to 3.196 mil­lion met­ric tons (MMT) last quar­ter from 3.39 MMT a year ago. That was big­ger than the 1.97% drop pro­jected as of Au­gust on a smaller

har­vest area. The nine months to Septem­ber saw pro­duc­tion of this sta­ple slip by 0.41% to 11.909 MMT from 11.959 MMT a year ago.

“This was at­trib­uted to dam­age brought by ty­phoons ‘Henry’, ‘In­day’, ‘Josie’ and ‘Om­pong’ in the north­ern Lu­zon and the de­layed plant­ing due to the on­go­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of ir­ri­gation fa­cil­i­ties and late re­lease of ir­ri­gation wa­ter in Ca­gayan Val­ley and CALABARZON (Cavite-La­gu­naBatan­gas-Rizal-Que­zon re­gion). There were also re­ports of move­ment of plant­ing caused by the late oc­cur­rence of rain­fall in some part of MIMAROPA (Oc­ci­den­tal and Ori­en­tal Min­doro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) re­gion,” the re­port read.

Typhoon Mangkhut, lo­cally called Om­pong, alone that rav­aged north­ern and cen­tral Lu­zon’s crop fields on Sept. 15, wreaked P26.77 bil­lion and P7.161 bil­lion in farm and in­fra­struc­ture dam­age, re­spec­tively, ac­cord­ing to Oct. 6 gov­ern­ment es­ti­mates.

Pro­duc­tion of corn, which had the fourth-big­gest con­tri­bu­tion to to­tal farm out­put value at 7.58%, saw vol­ume drop 14.83% to 2.205 MMT last quar­ter from 2.589 MMT a year ago, com­pared to a 2.74% fall in July-Septem­ber 2017. That com­pared to a 15.75% drop ex­pected for the quar­ter in Au­gust. The PSA noted that, be­sides dam­age from last quar­ter’s four storms, corn out­put fell on de­layed plant­ing due to late rains in Ca­gayan Val­ley, which also saw a shift from this crop to ba­nana, pineapple, gin­ger, eg­g­plant, su­gar­cane and to­bacco due to these al­ter­na­tives’ higher buy­ing prices. Pro­duc­tion of this grain dropped 5.08% to 5.966 MMT year to date from 6.286 MMT in 2017’s com­pa­ra­ble nine months.

OTHER SEC­TORS

Pro­duc­tion of live­stock, which con­trib­uted 18.89% to to­tal farm out­put value, grew 2.15% last quar­ter com­pared to just 0.72% a year ago, fuel­ing a two per­cent year-to-date ex­pan­sion against 0.81% the past year. Most items un­der this cat­e­gory in­creased, ex­cept for carabao out­put which fell 1.63%. Hog pro­duc­tion, which made the sec­ond-big­gest con­tri­bu­tion to the to­tal af­ter palay at 15.87%, grew 2.55% to 541,030 MT, against a 0.91% in­crease the past year.

Growth of poul­try out­put, which con­trib­uted 18.44% to the en­tire sec­tor’s value, picked up to 5.45% last quar­ter against 3.42% a year ago, driv­ing year-to-date in­crease to 5.31% against 4.56% in 2017’s com­pa­ra­ble nine months. “Out­put gains were noted for chicken, chicken eggs and duck eggs,” the re­port read. Pro­duc­tion of chicken alone, which had the third-big­gest con­tri­bu­tion to to­tal farm pro­duc­tion value at 13.95%, grew 4.31% to 428,770 MT, against the year-ago 2.52%.

Pro­duc­tion of fish­eries, which con­trib­uted 17.08% to to­tal agri­cul­ture out­put value, slipped by 2.64% com­pared to the year­ago 4.24% drop. Year-to-date pro­duc­tion, how­ever, fell by a big­ger 2.21% from a 1.96% drop in Jan­uary-Septem­ber last year. “Pro­duc­tion of milk­fish, tiger prawn, round­scad and yel­lowfin tuna went down while tilapia, skip­jack and seaweed posted out­put gains,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

PRICES BET­TER OVER­ALL

On the av­er­age, farm­ers got a bet­ter deal for their pro­duce, with far­m­gate prices ris­ing 7.71% com­pared to 3.61% a year ago.

Year-to-date, such prices went up 6.85% com­pared to 4.08% in Jan­uary-Septem­ber last year.

By sec­tor, last quar­ter saw crop far­m­gate prices rise by 5.68% (com­pared to 1.34% a year ago), with rice go­ing up 16.86% (com­pared to 0.76% a year ago) and corn surging 22.44% (turn­ing around from the year-ago 3.98% drop).

Live­stock far­m­gate prices rose by a slower 6.52% com­pared to the year-ago 13.81%, with the in­crease in hog prices alone slow­ing to 5.96% from 15.46%. Year-to-date, live­stock far­m­gate prices grew 9.24% com­pared to an 11.24% in­crease in the nine months to Septem­ber last year.

Prices of poul­try re­cov­ered with a 13.03% third-quar­ter surge com­pared to the past year’s 7.67% drop, fuel­ing a 4.85% year-to-date in­crease com­pared to a 1.79% fall in Jan­uary-Septem­ber 2017. Prices of chicken alone went up by 19.14% last quar­ter, turn­ing around from the past year’s 10.8% drop.

Fi­nally, the in­crease in fish­eries prices picked up to 15.26% last quar­ter from 8.4% a year ago, driv­ing the year-to-date rise to 10.33% com­pared to 7.97% in the nine months to Septem­ber last year. — with

PHILIP­PINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

A FARMER works on a rice field at Barangay Sto. Niño in Calumpit, Bu­la­can.

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