THE country’s agriculture output in the second quarter may stay the same if El Niño continues to damage local plantations, according to economists.

“Ganun pa rin kasi tuloy-tuloy pa rin yung El Niño [It will stay the same due to El Niño],” Roehlano Briones, a senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), told BusinessMirror via phone.

 “Baka masundan naman ng La Niña kaya lang that’s another source of disaster; sobra naman ang tubig pero I don’t think the situation will be any different second quarter [There could be La Niña which is another source of disaster because of excess water but I don’t think the situation will be any different second quarter],” he added.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that farm production inched up by 0.05 percent in terms of value using constant 2018 prices. The crops, livestock, and fisheries subsectors recorded contractions while poultry registered an increase.

The value of poultry production, which amounted to P68.76 billion, posted a 5.9-percent gain with every poultry commodity recording increases, except for duck eggs.

However, Briones doubts if the increase in poultry would be maintained by the second quarter.

Baka hindi natin ma-repeat itong extraordinary increase ng poultry tapos similar trend pa rin yung ibang subsectors, so baka hindi maulit yang slightly positive growth na ‘yan, baka mag-negative na siya ng second quarter lang [It’s possible that extraordinary increase in poultry won’t happen again. With the similar trend in the rest of the subsectors, it’s also possible not to have a repeat of that slightly positive growth which may turn negative but only for the second quarter],” he said.

“That 5.9-percent growth might not be repeated, and therefore, [poultry] cannot pull up the entire sector into the positive territory by second quarter,” he added.

Contractions in commodities

Meanwhile, University of Asia and the Pacific Center for Food and Agribusiness (CFA) Executive Director Senen Reyes told BusinessMirror that contractions in some commodities were partly due to El Niño.

“If you look at the first quarter volumes for the three subsectors, you would note that these contracted, particularly for some commodities which account for a significant share of agriculture and fisheries, in part due to the El Niño,” Reyes said via text.

Poultry, particularly chicken, increased with more modern facilities of commercial growers which made it more resilient to the weather disturbances. As a cheaper protein source, the demand may have prodded more loadings, he explained.

“Given the same conditions, the second quarter may be the same depending on the weather,” Reyes said. 

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