DA targets 5.3% growth in medium term

By Jennifer A. Ng, BusinessMirror

Posted at Aug 23 2012 08:23 AM | Updated as of Aug 23 2012 04:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it would continue to shoot for a growth of 4.3 percent to 5.3 percent in farm output from 2013 to 2015 or the medium term, despite the challenges confronting it, like climate change.

“In the medium term, we will seek to achieve a growth of 4.3 percent to 5.3 percent for agriculture and fisheries,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said during a hearing on the department’s budget for 2013.

The department was allocated a budget of P74.1 billion for 2013. This is 21 percent higher than its P61.4-billion budget in 2012.

Since it is banking on the crops subsector, particularly palay, to boost farm growth, the DA said the Department of Budget and Management allocated a budget of P28.75 billion for irrigation for 2013.

The government has poured huge resources into the rice sector, particularly in irrigation, in an effort to achieve “self-sufficiency” in unmilled-rice production by the end of next year.

Alcala said barring any natural disasters that could make a significant dent on palay production, the Philippines is well on its way to becoming rice self-sufficient, possibly in 2013.

“We have offered to give incentives to those who practiced early cropping for the wet season. We offered to provide free insurance [coverage for their crop] as well certified seeds,” he said.

These incentives, said Alcala, were provided to boost the government’s effort to achieve rice self-sufficiency by next year.

At any given time, paddy-rice output accounts for 15 percent of total farm production. The crops subsector itself accounts for almost half of farm output.

For 2012 Alcala earlier said the DA was sticking to its target of growing farm production by 4.1 percent to 5 percent.

This despite the lacklustre performance of the farm sector for January to June this year.

Figures released by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (Bas) said the country’s farm sector grew by 0.93 percent in the first half, slower than the 5.48 percent registered in?the same period last year.

The Bas figures showed that the year-on-year decline in the output of livestock and fisheries in the second quarter of the year caused the slowdown in the sector’s growth for the first semester.

Farm growth in the second quarter reached only 0.73 percent, lower than the 1.1 percent registered in January to March this year.