MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) will intensify efforts to control the spread of African swine fever (ASF) after the latest Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data on the value of agricultural production, at constant 2018 prices, showed a minus 3.3 percent drop in the first quarter of 2021.
Livestock production, which shared 14.2 percent in the total agricultural output, contracted by minus 23.2 percent.
Hog, the major contributor to livestock, decreased by minus 25.8 percent.
Poultry, which accounted for 13.3 percent of the total agricultural production, likewise declined by minus 7.4 percent while chicken production went down by minus 11.2 percent.
DA Secretary William Dar, in a message to reporters on Monday, shared that the data were expected.
"Our efforts to control the ASF and repopulate ASF-free areas are yet to bear fruits," he said, referring to the nationwide “Bantay ASF sa Barangay” and its counterpart hog repopulation program.
The DA is joined by local government units, veterinary firms, and practitioners, the academe, and the government's two main financial institutions –Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines, that lend PHP30 billion and PHP12 billion, respectively, to commercial swine raisers in ASF-free areas.
At current prices, the value of agricultural production amounted to PHP484.8 billion and was higher by 8.2 percent from the previous year’s level, boosted by crop production and the fisheries sector which both generated significant increase.
Crop production grew by 3.3 percent. It contributed 58.8 percent to the total agricultural production. Palay (unhusked rice) and corn production increased by 8.6 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.
Fisheries production registered a 0.6 percent growth during the period. It contributed 13.7 percent to the total agricultural production.
Double-digit production growths were recorded for mudcrab (alimango) by 20.2 percent, skipjack (gulyasan) by 19.0 percent, and slipmouth (sapsap) by 15.7 percent.
"We will continue to implement our 'Plant, Plant, Plant’ program that is mainly focused on increasing our basic food commodities like, rice, corn, vegetables, livestock, poultry, and fisheries, comprising more than 70 percent of our agricultural Gross Value Added," Dar said.
The secretary also underscored the contribution of the coconut sub-sector to the country's agricultural export in the coming quarters.
The recently enacted Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act now has substantial budgetary resources to modernize and industrialize the sleeping giant of the agriculture sector, Dar added.
This year, DA’s target production growth is 2.5 percent. (PNA)