Agricultural output expected to come in flat in third quarter

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By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

THIRD-QUARTER GROWTH in agriculture output is expected to be flat after typhoons disrupted production, analysts said.

Pampanga State Agricultural University Professor Roy S. Kempis said in a phone message that he projects growth to be negative to flat, weighted on the contraction side.

“I believe that growth figures will remain flat closer to a negative number between minus 1.5 to 0.5%; about minus 1.0%,” Mr. Kempis said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority is scheduled to release its third-quarter estimate for agriculture growth on Nov. 8, Monday.

The agriculture sector posted growth of 0.7% in the third quarter of 2020 and contracted 1.5% in the second quarter of 2021.

For 2021, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is targeting growth of 2% for the industry.

“Production was still a challenge because of the weather disturbances. These challenges happen also because of the effects of 3rd Quarter syndrome, when productivity is reduced when the available production is more difficult to dry, as in the case of rice and corn,” Mr. Kempis said.

“Livestock tend to get sick more in this quarter. Fishing is more difficult in stormy weather. On the other hand, the movement of goods and services improved with the easing up of lockdowns as vaccine supply substantially improved,” he added.

Mr. Kempis said the poultry subsector is likely to post growth as chickens are grown in climate-controlled areas.

According to the DA, Typhoon Jolina caused an estimated P1.36 billion worth of losses to the industry.

Another weather disturbance that resulted in significant agricultural losses was the rains brought by the southwest monsoon and enhanced by Typhoon Fabian, which caused P698.53 million worth of damage.

Rolando T. Dy, executive director of the Center for Food and Agri Business of the University of Asia and the Pacific, said growth in the farm sector is expected to be flat in the third quarter.

“For me, (the growth) is flat. The (third) quarter is affected by seasonality. The subsectors of livestock (hogs) and poultry will not recover,” Mr. Dy said in a mobile phone message.

Federation of Free Farmers National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor said in a mobile phone message that the growth rate of the agriculture sector could be negative due to the effect of the typhoons.

“The gross value of production at constant 2018 prices for the first three quarters of 2020 was P1.30 trillion. In order to equal this in 2021, the value of production for the third quarter should be around P439 billion, or about 5.2% higher than the 3rd quarter output in 2020. This is a tall order, particularly given the spate of typhoons we encountered during the third quarter,” Mr. Montemayor said.

Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture Director Glenn B. Gregorio estimated that the farm sector will post improved output in the third quarter.

“I am hopeful that the overall value of production in the Philippine agriculture and fisheries sector would register a positive growth around 0.7 to 1.0%,” Mr. Gregorio said in a mobile phone message.

“I have been observing positive growth in our crops sector which also has a high probability of achieving positive growth during this quarter as well. The typhoon months of the third quarter did not affect the production especially in rice and corn causing an expected increase in the value of production in the crop sector,” Mr. Gregorio said.

Mr. Gregorio said the livestock subsector is expected to decline as it is still affected by the African Swine Fever outbreak.

He said the government should institutionalize biosecurity measures for the livestock sector.

“I would like to emphasize again the importance of instituting biosecurity measures for our livestock sector as we aim for a more system intervention that will overall strengthen its ability to respond to current and future diseases. In addition, a more action-oriented disease surveillance system would need to be actively promoted and instituted by regulatory bodies,” Mr. Gregorio said.