PH farm output up 0.9% in first half

Reuters

Posted at Aug 13 2012 04:03 PM | Updated as of Aug 14 2012 12:11 AM

MANILA - The Philippines' agricultural output grew 0.9 percent in the first six months of the year, but an official said on Monday they hoped an anticipated record rice harvest would help the sector meet its year-end growth target of 4 to 5 percent.

Farm output accounts for a fifth of the Philippines' gross domestic product. The January-June growth rate was far less than the previous year's 5.48 percent growth during the same period, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told reporters.

Unmilled rice output in the first half of the year hit a record 7.9 million tonnes, up 4.15 percent from a year ago, and Alcala said the government expects that increase would help boost farm output for the whole year.

The government lowered its rice output forecast for the whole year to 17.8 million tonnes from 18.4 million after reviewing a survey of farmers' planting intentions, Alcala said.

But the government is sticking to its plan to import 500,000 tonnes of rice for the year, he added.

"We're still hoping to hit our growth forecast of 4 to 5 percent for agriculture this year," Alcala said.

"We don't need to import more rice. Palay production in 2012 may still reach a record volume," he added.

Corn production was up 4.81 percent at 3.5 million tonnes.

Nearly two weeks of rain inundated wide areas of rice-growing provinces north of Manila and the farm department has so far estimated losses of about P723 million  ($17 million), mostly in palay rice.

Manila is scheduled to release GDP data for the second quarter and first half of 2012 on August 30.

The economy grew at a higher-than-expected 6.4 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, its fastest in a year-and-a-half, and officials have said the economy may have expanded by about the same pace in the second quarter.