Agricultural output up 0.4% in 2023

Farmers are seen in a rice field in Bustos, Bulacan, Oct. 17, 2023. — KJ ROSALES, The Philippine Star

By Adrian H. Halili, Reporter

THE Philippines’ agricultural output posted modest growth in 2023 as crops, livestock, and poultry production improved, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

Data from the PSA showed the full-year value of production in agriculture and fisheries at constant 2018 prices expanded by 0.4%, well-below the Department of Agriculture’s 2.3%-2.5% growth target.

This was a reversal of the 0.1% contraction in farm output last year. It was also the first time agricultural output posted growth after three straight years of decline or since the 0.3% growth in 2019.

The PSA attributed the increase to higher production in crops, livestock, and poultry, although this was tempered by the decline in fisheries.

In the fourth quarter, the value of agricultural production rose by 0.7%, a reversal of its 1% drop in the same period in 2022 and the 0.2% decline in the third quarter of 2023.

At current prices, the value of production in agriculture and fisheries rose by 7.8% year on year to P659.02 billion in the fourth quarter.

The agriculture sector contributes around a tenth to overall gross domestic product (GDP). Fourth-quarter and full-year 2023 economic data are scheduled to be released today (Jan. 31).

Elias Jose M. Inciong, president of the United Broiler Raisers Association, said agriculture production may have expanded last year as it was coming from a low base in 2022.

“It is premature to talk about a rebound or even growth,” he said in a Viber message.

Crop output, which accounted for more than half of total agricultural production, inched up 0.1% in the October-to-December period, a reversal of the 1% decline during the same period in 2022.

For the full year, crop production rose by 0.7%, reversing the 1% contraction in 2022.

“For crops, weather was more favorable with less typhoons. Given that, however, output should have been much higher,” Federation of Free Farmers National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor said in a Viber message.

PSA data showed that palay or unmilled rice production went up by 0.2% in the fourth quarter, a turnaround from the 2.5% drop in the same period in 2022. For 2023, palay production jumped by 1.5%, an improvement from the 1% decline in 2022.

Palay production reached 20.06 million metric tons (MT) in 2023, translating to about 13.2 million MT of rice.

Roy S. Kempis, retired Pampanga State Agricultural University professor, said favorable weather conditions helped boost crop production last year.

“The near absence of typhoons that would land on Philippine soil is favorable to crop production, thus, crop output in (the fourth quarter) could prop up overall growth. The use of weather-resilient farming innovations also helped the crop sector grow,” Mr. Kempis said in a Viber message.

Philippine Institute for Development Studies Senior Research Fellow Roehlano M. Briones said in a Viber message the slight rebound in crops was partly due to higher farmgate prices, especially for rice.

The national farmgate price for palay rose 14% to an average of P19.89 per kilo in 2023, the PSA reported.

In the fourth quarter, corn output declined by 1.8%, slightly better than the 6.9% drop in the same period in 2022. However, corn production grew by 1.8% in 2023, a turnaround from the 0.3% dip in 2022.

Other crops also saw double-digit growth in the October-to-December period such as cabbage (15.5%) and sugarcane (10.5%), while increases were seen in mango (7.6%), ampalaya (4%), cacao (3.4%), eggplant (3%), abaca (2.9%), tomato (2.6%), and tobacco (2.1%).

On the other hand, lower production was seen in rubber (-7.5%), onion (-6.8%), potato (-5.3%), sweet potato (-4.7%), calamansi (-4.3%), cassava (-2.7%), coconut (-1.9%), coffee (-1.7%), and banana (-0.2).

“Good prices for agricultural commodities on the part of the farmer-producers (are) the best incentive to production. If we can calibrate the role and margins of traders, we can predict more productivity from the producers,” Danilo V. Fausto, presi-dent of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. said in a Viber message.

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Meanwhile, PSA data showed livestock production increased by 2.7% in the fourth quarter, slightly higher than the 2.5% growth a year ago.