The latest Philippine Statistics Authority report showed that the performance of Philippine agriculture over the past five years has been sorely disappointing instead of the proclamations made during the early days of the Duterte administration that a “golden age” for agriculture is coming.
Philippine agriculture has been the consistent lowest contributor to the economy at an average of 9.92 percent yearly against the industry and services sectors that contributed 30 percent and 60 percent on average respectively.
The PSA, in its Agricultural Indicators System for Economic Growth, studied figures between 2016 and 2020, with 2018 as its baseline year. It aims to gauge the development of the sector and pinpoint what can be done to improve its performance.
Based on the gross value added (GVA) for each commodity, which provides the peso value for the amount of goods and services produced by the industry after deducting the cost of inputs and raw materials, declines were observed across the livestock, poultry, and fisheries subsectors over the last five years. Only the crops subsector was able to log growth of 1.5 percent in 2020.
In terms of the GVA of the industry per major island group, Visayas and Mindanao registered growth rates of 4.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, while Luzon slid by 3.1 percent.
While several factors could be blamed for this decline, including the African Swine Fever outbreak that decimated hog production in Luzon, and the massive disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the steady declines in agriculture outputs and statistics over the past five years could be categorized as a disappointment for anyone, who pinned their hopes on the boast that a golden age of agriculture is nigh.
A golden age for agriculture is still possible if the sector receives the support it needs badly. Perhaps, the seeds that have been planted by those who dreamt of it are still germinating but, if results have not been seen after five years, it may be time to see what can still be saved or start all over again.
What is important is the people responsible for the fruition of the dream are still tending to it with the same determination and enthusiasm as when they started.*