Farm output in the Philippines was 4.5 percent lower in the first quarter of this year than in the same period of 2015, according to statistics published by the government agency, the Philippines Statistics Agency (PSA). Gross earnings were 1.5 percent lower than last year. The downturn in production was blamed on a prolonged period of drought that resulted from El Niño, and two typhoons.
Accounting for more than half of total agricultural output, crop production was hit hard by the adverse weather, with overall output volume down 8.6 percent. Rice and corn harvests for the 3-month period were 10 and 19 percent, respectively, lower than the year-ago period. Corn production this year is forecast at a little over 1.9 million metric tons (mmt), which compares with almost 2.4 mmt in 2015 and 2.2 mmt in 2014.
Average farm-gate prices for the quarter were 5.5 percent higher for the crop subsector and 7.8 percent for poultry. Producers in the livestock and fisheries subsector, however, experienced reductions in prices from their goods.
The livestock, poultry and fisheries subsectors share almost equally their contributions to overall farm production in the Philippines for the quarter in terms of value.
Livestock fared relatively well for the period, registering an increase of 4.7 percent in volume overall. Pig production was up by 5.5 percent in volume to 527,000 metric tons (mt), with an increase of 1.2 percent in value.
Despite a small reduction in volume to just under 413,000 mt, the chicken meat sector did particularly well, registering a 10.7 percent rise in the value of its output for the period. Chicken egg output for the first quarter of 2016 was nearly 118,000 mt, 5.4 percent more than the previous year. Duck meat production increased from 9,750 mt for the January-March period last year to just over 10,000 mt for 2016, an increase of 2.7 percent, while duck egg output was slightly up from 12 months previously at 10,100 mt.
Output from the fisheries sector was more than 5 percent below the level achieved in the first 3 months of 2015.
Success for the pig meat sector in the quarter is attributed to strong demand in Central Luzon and Calabarzon, an influx of tourists in Central Visayas and Northern Mindanao, and pre-election activities in the provinces. In addition, backyard and commercial farm operators increased their disposition of animals for slaughter as expansion of commercial farms in Ilocos Region and Davao Region was also noted during the period.
Outbreaks of Newcastle disease disrupted supplies of day-old chicks for a period of time during the quarter, according to PSA, and high temperatures reduced liveweights, leading to a slight drop in the volume of chicken meat produced compared to the previous year.
Commercial layer farms expanded in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and Samar, and new facilities were established in La Union and Quezon. Layer numbers were also increased in many other regions of the country in response to strengthening demand from hotels, restaurants and manufacturers of bakery products.
Demand for duck meat and eggs was reported to be strong across several regions.