En route to rice self-sufficiency? Agricultural growth in Philippines up 5.5%

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Agriculture

En route to rice self-sufficiency?  Agricultural growth in Philippines up 5.5%
The Philippines wants to be self-sufficient in rice and corn by 2013 and the 5.5% agricultural growth in the first half of 2011 could mark a positive start, according to the country’s agricultural secretary.

In late 2010, the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) announced the ‘2011-2016 Rice Self Sufficiency Roadmap’ (RSSR) that aims to achieve rice self-sufficiency status by 2013-2016. The RSSR aims to expand and rehabilitate irrigation areas as well as encourage investments in postharvest facilities to reduce losses. It is undergoing review and refinements but is a core focus for the Philippine Government.

The recent report, from the Philippine DA on agricultural growth, marks a strengthening for the country’s agricultural market, particularly in rice and corn.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that farmers’ rice and corn harvests in the first six months of the year exceeded past records and marks a sign that the country’s food sufficiency program is on track.

“Agriculture grew by 5.48 percent in the first six months of 2011. The crop subsector was the major growth driver during the period,” the Philippine DA said.

This growth marks a dramatic improvement from the same period last year where the agricultural sector saw crop, livestock and fishery production contract by 2.9%.

The DA said the total value of the country’s agricultural production in the first semester was approximately 16% up from last year, at 706.4 billion pesos ($16.7 billion). The DA report also said that farmers have seen better prices for their goods, up by 10% on the same six-month period last year.

The crops subsector accounts for half of the Philippines’ total agricultural output and saw a growth of 11.1% - boosted by record high palay harvests (7.58m metric tons) and corn harvests (3.32m metric tons). Country staples including sugarcane, banana, tobacco and onions also saw increases in yields and values, the DA said.

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s 2011 report for the Philippines, ‘Grain and Feed Annual’, said rice imports are expected to decline by approximately 1.1m in 2011, decreasing to an estimated 1.5m tons due to the good first half yield but also due to large beginning stocks from over purchasing in the market year 2009/2010. However, the report said that few analysts believe self-sufficiency is achievable without major overhauls in rice milling and storage. It also says that due to economic and population growth, rice consumption and demand will increase, making it harder to meet self-sufficiency levels.

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