DESPITE the onslaught of typhoons that became the biggest threat to the country’s farm production last year, Philippine agriculture and fisheries managed to grow by 1.5 percent in the first nine months of 2009.

Livestock, poultry and fisheries were the period’s primary growth drivers. The gross value of agricultural output amounted to P849.3 billion, which is 1.62 percent higher than the first nine months of 2008, according to the year-ender report released by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

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The livestock subsector recovered from its 2008 slump by posting a growth of about 1.95 last year. DA secretary Arthur Yap said this was mainly due to hog production, which posted an increase of 2.22 percent.

He added that the subsector accounted for 12.36 percent of total agricultural output, grossing at current prices of about P138.4 billion. This, he said, is a 4.89 percent increase from 2008.

Poultry

The poultry sector registered a 3.46 percent output gain last year, corresponding to a 14.09 percent share of the total agricultural output. Gross receipts of the subsector amounted to P100.3 billion at current prices, up by 11.38 percent this year.

The fisheries sector grew by 3.28 last year, corresponding to a 26.63 percent of the total agricultural production. The subsector grossed P160.6 billion at current prices or 3.18 percent more than in 2008.

The crops subsector, which accounted for 46.92 percent in total agricultural output, registered a 0.15 percent drop in output last year.

Palay production also posted a growth of 2.90 percent and corn production inched up by 0.76 percent. Yap said that the production gains were noted due to the increase in both production and prices.

Other gainers were coconut, tomato, banana, peanut, cassava and tobacco with their respective outputs growing from a range of 2.24 percent to 12.25 percent.

The agriculture’s positive growth in 2009 was attributed to the government’s food and security agenda FIELDS (Fertilizers, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure, Extension services and education for farmers, Loans, Dryers and other postharvest facilities, and Seeds and other genetic materials) and MTPDP (Medium Term Philippine Development Plan), which covers the multi-year development of two million hectares of farmland to further boost productivity and create two million additional jobs this year.

Meanwhile, DA 7 Regional Director Ricardo Oblena reported that the region’s agricultural performance posted a growth of two to three percent from the period of January to September last year.

Oblena attributed the growth to projects implemented last year that helped improve the farm production in the region and increased the profitability among farmers and fisher folks.

“We have pushed the farmers to engage in good agricultural practices such as vermiculture (or the use of worms) in farming,” he said. Oblena said such projects not only cut farming costs but also ensure high quality of crops.

Positive outlook

DA 7 also reported a positive outlook for this year as they will continue to push for hybrid rice and corn production among farmers. Oblena said this will help farmers earn additional income.

Aside from this, more income generating projects are set for this year as DA7 will also push for the raising of native chicken, a breed that is sought after by tourists, he said.

Oblena also said that more trading points like bagsakan or drop-off centers (BC) and barangay bagsakans (BB) will be set up in the provinces this year. The goods sold in these centers are 60 percent cheaper than those sold in regular markets.

DA has established 71 BCs and 446 BBs nationwide since it started in 2007.

“We also hope for more post-harvest facilities this year to counter post-harvest losses. We have also asked the government to establish mechanical flat bed dryers in preparation for the wet season this year,” he said.