MANILA, Philippines --- Floods and drought do not stand in the way of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala from making good on his promise to make the country self-sufficient in rice by yearend of 2013.
Alcala declared as much as he announced minimal increases in the output of rice and corn for the first semester in a press briefing yesterday morning.
Overall, agriculture grew by a measly 0.93 percent for the first semester of 2012, with gross value placed at P691.4 billion in current prices.
Palay output for the first six months made a decent 4.15 percent increase but corn yield performed a bit better at 4.8 percent.
What has made Alcala optimistic about reaching his goal of rice self-suftficiency by yearend of 2013 is the fact that the harvest of palay for the first semester was 7.89 million metric tons (MMT), 4.2 percent better than the yield of 7.58 MMT for the same period in 2011.
Corn yield was 3.47 MMT, 4.8 percent higher than the 3.31 MMT harvested from January to June last year.
Alcala stressed that for the second quarter, palay output was 3.89 MMT, 10 percent higher than the record of 3.54 MMT notched for the same period of 2011.
For corn, the second quarter yield was 1.45 MMT, higher than the 1.4 MMT produced for the same quarter last year.
Projecting yields on the basis of the performance of these staples, Alcala said the Bureau of Agriculture Statistics (BAS) predicted total palay production for the third quarter to be 3.56 MMT, 12 percent better than the 3.17 MMT last year.
The last quarter performance is also expected to top 6.36 MMT, 7 percent higher than the 5.94 MMT for the final quarter of 2011.
Output for the second semester may reach 3.99 MMT based on the third quarter standing crop and the planting intentions for the last quarter.
By yearend, Alcala said the total corn output may reach 7.46 MMT, a record harvest, and 7 percent better than the 2011 output of 6.97 MMT.
Alcala said the increases in output for rice and corn came largely as the DA expanded production areas, broadened the reach of irrigation services and distributed quality rice and corn seeds nationwide.
In spite of complaints about the deluge of foreign chicken meat, poultry actually grew by 5.5 percent, perhaps the first time in the last five years that the industry turned in a sterling record and leading agriculture's parade of winners.
Poultry shared 13.9 percent of total agriculture output as it expanded 5 percent and grossed P81.3 billion.
Livestock, which is engaged in a prolonged battle against meat importers, managed to secure a 0.5 percent growth and contributed 15.2 percent of total agricultural production as it grossed P100.3 billion.
Fisheries, long a winner in the semestral reports of the Department of Agriculture (DA), slid by 3.3 percent compared to its performance for the same period of 2011.
It accounted for 18.8 percent of total agricultural production and grossed P117.4 billion.
The DA chief also reported increases in output for coconut (5.5 percent), pineapple (4.4 percent), coffee (4.4 percent), tobacco (3.8 percent), abaca (3.1 percent), cabbage (3 percent) and rubber (6.7 percent).
Total crop production was valued at P392.3 billion at current prices.