QUEZON City, May 11, 2011â€” The countryâ€™s agriculture output grew by 4.1 % in the first three months, the Agriculture department said, boosted by good harvests of palay, corn, sugarcane, and banana.
In a press briefing yesterday, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said the crops sub-sector continued some 52.99% to the total agricultural output which expanded by 8.19%.
He said despite the decline in fisheries production, the gross value of agricultural output amounted to P 347.2 billion or 12.72% more than last yearâ€™s record.
â€œThe recent typhoon came at a time when most palay crops have been harvested and within the next two or three days, we will have a clear picture of Bebengâ€™s effects on our crops,â€ he said. However, Alcala said he remains hopeful the ill effects of the typhoon will be very minimal.
He said most of the rice crops may recover as soon as flood waters subside.
Alcala said they will not revise their projected rice imports due to the typhoon because they have already factored in the possible impact of typhoons this coming rainy season. He explained the reported La Nina phenomenon was not as severe as projected.
He said he is more than satisfied with the rice and corn harvests for the first quarter as he allayed fears from Filipino consumers that sugar prices would increase this year.
â€œSugar mills in the Visayas will continue operations until the end of the month and I have been informed the withdrawal of stocks from sugar mills have been slow which means thereâ€™s limited demand,â€ he said.
Interviewed after the press briefing, Alcala said it is imperative for rice farmers to consider using organic fertilizers because with every increase in petroleum prices, commercial fertilizers sourced from petroleum, would also increase and significantly reduce farmersâ€™ income.
â€œIt is time for farmers to turn to organic fertilizers for environmental and economic reasons,â€ Alcala said. He added he has personally tried using organic fertilizers in his farm in Quezon Province thatâ€™s why heâ€™s strongly recommending it toother Filipino farmers.
The CBCPâ€™s National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) has introduced sustainable agriculture to most of countryâ€™s 86 ecclesial provinces. Various pilot farms utilizing sustainable agriculture methods have been set-up by different dioceses across the country.
â€œWith all these factors, we look forward to being self-sufficient in rice by 2013,â€ he explained. He said they have already repaired most irrigation facilities across the country as this was the first order he received from President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III when he assumed office.
Despite the decline in the in fisheries sector, Alcala expressed appreciation for the fish processors in Mindanao who, on their own, deferred commercial fishing activities to give time for fish to spawn and grow.
â€œCommercial fishermen stopped their fishing activities from November 2010 to February this year because they noticed the seas have been overfished,â€ he added. (Melo M. Acuna)