H1 farm sector down 2.6%, gov't unlikely to meet 2010 rice output goal

Reuters

Posted at Aug 16 2010 12:04 PM | Updated as of Aug 16 2010 08:54 PM

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - The country is unlikely to meet its output target for unmilled rice this year, the Agriculture Secretary said on Monday after data showed production in the first half of 2010 fell by an annual 10.24%.

The Philippines' total farm output shrank 2.18% in the second quarter from a year earlier, and over the first half of the year production contracted by an annual 2.59%.

Production of paddy rice, the country's main crop, has been hit by damage from typhoons last year and then drought this year, which lead to record imports for 2010 by the Philippines, the world's largest buyer of rice.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the government planned to cut imports of rice for 2011 by at least half from this year.

In the second quarter, production of unmilled rice fell 8.9% from a year earlier. The government said production was expected to fall an annual 25.6% in the September quarter, but would then post growth of 30.3% in the fourth quarter.

Crops production, which make up 45% of total farm output, fell 6.72%  in the first half of 2010 from a year earlier.

Agricultural production makes up around a fifth of the Philippines' gross domestic product. The government is set to announce second quarter GDP growth data on Aug. 26.

The country produced 6.6 million ton of unmilled, or paddy, rice in the first 6  months of 2010, less than half the 2010 target of 17.4 million tons for the national staple, the agriculture department said.