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PIA Press Release

Livestock, poultry post gains in Q1 amid El Nino

Manila (20 May) -- The livestock and poultry subsectors managed to post modest gains in the first quarter of the year despite the onslaught of El Niņo on key food-producing areas in the country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said yesterday.

Crops like coconut, mango, tobacco, cabbage, cassava and onion also registered positive growth rates but their gains were not enough to offset the significant production losses from palay and corn, according to the first-quarter official report of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).

In general, Philippine agriculture contracted by 2.84%, along with its primary growth driver?the fisheries subsector?owing to the impact of the El Nino phenomenon on this sector, the same BAS quarterly report said.

Production losses in palay and corn for the first quarter were estimated at 300 thousand MT and 175 thousand MT, respectively.

Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla said "the Department is now reviewing protocols on water management in dams and irrigation systems nationwide, along with an array of other measures, to mitigate the adverse effects of future dry spells on Philippine agriculture and fisheries."

"Alongside revisiting protocols on water releases from dams, the Department is also planning to expand its programs on small water impounding projects and communal irrigation systems," he said, to help mitigate the adverse impact of future El Niņo attacks on farm yields.

Installing more water impounding and communal irrigation facilities, Fondevilla said, will allow farms to tap alternative water sources in case big dams dry up during El Niņo-induced dry spells.

The DA will likewise stock up on drought-resistant seeds and will spearhead programs to either protect watersheds or reforest denuded ones, he said.

"So these are the things we can prepare for the future. Of course the other things are, we look at the way we are using up water as well. We need to look at our water sheds to make sure that they are either protected, and those that are already denuded, maybe we can embark with other agencies of the government to reforest them and renew them," Fondevilla said.

In its report, BAS said the livestock subsector grew by a modest 0.51% in the first three months of 2010, as production increases were recorded for hog, goat and cattle, while dairy posted a hefty 17.22% output gain.

The poultry subsector expanded 2.02% on the back of increases in chicken and chicken egg production of 1.81% and 4.43%, respectively.

These two subsectors accounted for close to 30% of the total agricultural output for the first quarter, BAS said.

It said the growth of the crops subsector, which shared 47.75% of the total agricultural production, dropped by 6.15% as palay posted production losses of 11.41% with 3.49 million metric tons and corn output at 1.6 million MT declined by 16.76% as compared to the same period last year.

"The dry spell caused by the El Niņo pulled down area harvested and yield in the major palay producing regions of Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao and SOCCSKSARGEN, " the BAS said in its report.

Meanwhile, "yellow corn production was adversely affected by hot weather as area harvested in Cagayan Valley, SOCCSKSARGEN, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Cordillera Administrative Region contracted in the first quarter of the year," BAS likewise noted.

The biggest gainer in the crops subsector was onion with an output increase of 11.22%. Coconut grew by 1.75%; banana by 1.26%; mango, 3.10%; tobacco, 9.66%; cassava, 6.99%; tomato, 7,05%; eggplant, 1.21%; and cabbage, 3.55%.

However, sugarcane, mongo and rubber posted big production cuts.

Total fisheries production, which accounted for 24.84% of the total agricultural output, dipped by 0.63% in the first three months of the year. Commercial and municipal fisheries posted production declines of 3.5% and 0.15%, respectively, but aquaculture managed to grow by 0.36%.

The impact of the dry spell on agricultural production would have been worse had the DA failed to retool its budget in the previous years to enable Philippine farms to meet the twin challenges of this phenomenon along with increasing global free trade.

It allocated 86% of its P47 billion budget to various support services, such as the provision of flatbed dryers, corn drying centrals, fishports, and storage warehouses for farm produce; market linkages; strengthening of regulatory and disease eradication capabilities; and the establishment of satellite-based remote sensing and geographic information systems.

Moreover, the DA strengthened its statistics and forecasting capabilities; developed and distributed climate-ready crops seeds, which are submergence, drought and disease tolerant; engineered climate-change adapted infrastructure for production and processing; enabled more financing for agriculture through innovative weather-based insurance schemes; and disseminated more information, knowledge and training in crops science and planting techniques. (DA Press Office) [top]

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