CAR’s low agriculture output in 2021 blamed on ASF, crop damage

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The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has attributed the region’s 2021 negative agricultural growth to the African swine fever (ASF) and the several days of monsoon rains that damaged crops, especially those in their flowering stage.

A NEDA report shared with the media on Thursday showed that the region’s gross regional domestic product logged a negative 1.7 percent growth for agriculture, forestry, and fishing, which is the region’s fourth economic driver, posting only 9.2 percent compared to the previous year’s contribution of about 10.2 percent.

Susan Sumbeling, regional director of NEDA in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), during the regional economic performance report, said that while the movement of food was unrestricted anywhere in the country, there were several other factors related to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic that affected the delivery of agricultural produce.

“Hindi lang yung pagdeliver ng vegetables but may pumapasok na smugglers (it is not just about the delivery but also the entry of smuggled products) and that we cannot control that in the Cordillera because that is a national concern,” the director said.

She said the regional development council continues to coordinate and ask for assistance especially from the universities and colleges in the region to provide farmers the technical assistance on food processing.

“Like in Ifugao, we have done our initial coordination for the processing of vegetables in Tinoc. DA (Department of Agriculture) will provide the building and IFSU (Ifugao State University) will provide the equipment for processing.”

She said that while agriculture posted negative growth in 2021, it continues to contribute to the economy, bringing in PHP28.73 billion in 2021.

Aldrin Bahit, chief statistical specialist of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in the Cordillera, said there was a “negative growth rate but malaki pa rin ang contribution niya sa GRDP ng region (it still has a big contribution to the GRDP of the region).”

“Thousands of metric tons pa rin naman bumababa lang ang production (it just decreased but it is still in thousands of metric tons,” Bahit said.

The DA said that the region produces about 85 percent of the “chop suey” vegetable requirement of the country.

He said that 244,000 metric tons of corn were produced in 2021, posting an 11.6-percent decrease in the number two agricultural produce in the region.

Bahit also said that cabbage also posted a negative 5.5-percent decrease in production, and potato posted an almost 11-percent decrease.

Hog production posted the biggest drop with a 58.1-percent decrease.

“This is due to the ASF which did not just affect our region but the whole country,” Bahit explained.

He said that cassava and tuber production also posted a decrease in production.

“These decreases in production and the negative growth taken together posted a negative 1.7 percent decrease in agriculture output of the Cordillera,” he added.

Bahit, however, said that while minimal, there is an annual decreasing trend in agricultural output of the Cordillera which must be looked into and addressed as the region is considered the top producer of vegetables.

“The sad thing, ang contribution ng agriculture to the economy of the region is pababa ng pababa, yun ang trend.”

Records from the PSA showed that in 2019, agriculture posted a PHP29.87 billion contribution to the region’s economy but went down in 2020 to PHP29.23 and PHP28.73 in 2021.

Of the different economic indicators used, all the other 15 factors that contribute to the region’s GRDP all posted a positive growth with construction and manufacturing posting a 17.2 percent and 17.1 percent growth in 2021.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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