By Ma. Teresa Montemayor
MANILA – The country’s agriculture sector grew at faster rate of 1.2 percent in 2023 based on the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
“We are pleased that agriculture has contributed positively to growth of the economy last year. But certainly, we could do more,” Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu-Laurel Jr. said in a news release on Thursday.
Tiu-Laurel said the growth was driven by higher poultry and livestock production, increased fruit harvest and record rice output last year.
The PSA said the agriculture sector expanded by 0.6 percent in 2022.
As of November 2023, agriculture employed around 25 percent of the 49.7 million Filipinos in the labor force.
It also contributed 9 percent of last year’s gross domestic product.
Earlier, the Department of Agriculture (DA) recorded the highest rice harvest at 20.06 million metric tons in 2023.
Tiu-Laurel said this helped trim rice imports to 3.5 million metric tons from 3.8 million metric tons in 2022 and boosted farmers income.
Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund of the Rice Tariffication Law that provided financial and other assistance to farmers is one of the factors that helped increase rice output.
In line with the DA’s goal of modernizing agriculture, increasing food production, ensuring food security and raising farmers and fisherfolk income, Tiu-Laurel said the DA will increase spending on farm inputs, post-harvest and storage facilities, and build more irrigation systems.
“Certainly, agriculture is a low-hanging fruit for the economy where we could do more by providing the right inputs, mechanizing farm activities, adopting new technologies to raise yields and lower costs, effectively putting more money in the pockets of farmers and fisherfolk,” he added.
The DA has received PHP167.5 billion for its budget this year, higher by 5 percent from 2023. (PNA)