Eastern Visayas notes lower share of agri sector to regional economy

By Sarwell Meniano

May 19, 2018, 3:32 pm

<p><strong>LOW CONTRIBUTION TO ECONOMY.</strong> Farmers in Lavezares, Northern Samar inspect a rice farm before harvest. Farming sector has been tagged as the weakest sector contributing to the Eastern Visayas economy. <em>(Photo courtesy of DA Region 8)</em></p>

LOW CONTRIBUTION TO ECONOMY. Farmers in Lavezares, Northern Samar inspect a rice farm before harvest. Farming sector has been tagged as the weakest sector contributing to the Eastern Visayas economy. (Photo courtesy of DA Region 8)

TACLOBAN CITY -- Concerns have been raised over the declining share of the farming and fishing sector to the regional economy of Eastern Visayas in the past five years.

Andrew Orais, Department of Agriculture assistant regional director for operations, said on Friday that the high vulnerability of the region to natural calamities has contributed a lot to the consistent weak performance of the sector.

From a 20.1 percent share in 2013, the agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishery (AHFF) sector’s contribution plunged to 14.9 percent last year. This happened despite the region’s vast farm lands and fishing grounds.

“Some of our farmers have been discouraged to plant because while they were recovering from the destruction of super typhoon Yolanda in 2013, there were other typhoons that damaged their farms, making the recovery process harder,” Orais said.

“Our farmers have been assisted a lot both by the government and non-government organizations, but natural calamities deprived them of the chance to grow fruit-bearing trees,” he added.

The official said a huge budget has been poured to alleviate the impoverished situation but many factors continued to contribute to slow productivity.

Giving less priority to farming development is another factor. The primary responsibility to develop agricultural areas has been devolved to local government units, said the official.

In 2017, AHFF was the weakest among the three sectors contributing to the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) with a share of only 14.9. This is way lower than the contribution of the industry sector (42.6 percent) and services sector (42.5 percent).

The National Economic and Development Authority reported that the 0.1-percent growth of the AHFF sector last year was largely driven by the 10.1-percent decline in fish production.

The reduction in fish production was due to the intensified anti-illegal fishing drive, high fuel cost, inclement weather, decrease in the number of licensed commercial fishing vessels, and depleting fishing grounds.

“Low production and productivity in major commodities due to weak market linkages, inadequate production inputs, and climatic stresses, such as flooding and prolonged drought, among other inhibiting factors, contributed to the low growth,” said NEDA Eastern Visayas Regional Director Bonifacio Uy.

Eastern Visayas is an agricultural area. Some 45 percent or 976,415 hectares of its total land area is devoted to agriculture; 28 percent is forest lands; 25 percent is grasslands; and the rest are used for other purposes.

Of its agricultural land, 70 percent is planted with coconut and 20 percent with rice and corn. The rest are planted with other crops, used to raise livestock and poultry, or produce inland fishery products.

The region is the third poorest among the country’s 17 regions. As of 2015, poverty incidence among families in the region stood at 30.7 percent, which means that three out of every 10 families in the region are poor.

However, in 2016, its GRDP grew by 12.4 percent, making it the fastest-growing region in the country, offsetting economic losses incurred from super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Last year, the region’s GRDP managed to grow by 1.8 percent, but the growth is significantly slower than a year ago due to the scaling down of post-Yolanda construction activities and a decline in farm and fishery output.

GRDP measures the value of goods and services produced by a region. The figure of all regions sums up to the country’s gross domestic product. (PNA)