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Agri output worst in 20 years - Dar

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Irrigation Project
    The country's agriculture is in its "worst performance record in 20 years." Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in an Aug. 13 memorandum to President Estrada.
     Dar made this assessment based on the aggregate output of the agriculture sector for the period January to June 1998 which he said was largely affected by a steep drop in crop production due to the dry spell caused by the El Niño phenomenon.
    "The big slump in crop production brought down agriculture to its worst performance record in 20 years," Dar said in his two page memorandum. "The big setbacks suffered by the sector in the first semesters of 1983, 1985 and 1988 paled in comparison with this year's performance."
     "The effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon on crop farms translated into a 14.61 percent contraction in aggregate output this year," Dar added.
     For accounting purposes, agriculture performance is divided into sub-sectors, namely, crops, livestocks, poultry and fishery.
     As a whole, the agriculture sector posted a "considerable" 7.15 percent reduction in output in the first six months of 1998, Dar told the president.
     "In terms of gross value of output at current prices, the sector earned P245.1 billion indicating a 1.94 percent reduction from the 1997 level," Dar reported.
     Palay and corn production decreased by 26.57 percent and 43.62 percent, respectively, compared to the first six months of 1997, according to Dar.
     Except for tobacco, abaca, mongo, onion and rubber, all other crops registered output losses. The crops sub-sector grossed P127.6 billion at current prices, down by 9.68  percent.
     Providing a small consolation were the "moderate output increases" posted by the livestock and poultry sub-sectors which grew by 2.85 percent and 3.26 percent, respectively.
     Livestock production posted a gross value at current prices of P41.5 billion which represents a 3.52 increase over last year's earnings.
 In terms of output, hog farms and carabao and cattle farms posted increases, while goat production was at a stand-still and dairy output "continued to fall off."
     The poultry sub-sector grossed P32.8 billion at current prices and indicated a 16.37 percent addition to last year's level.
     But Dar noted that while poultry grew by 3.26 percent, this year's growth "was way below the 1997 record."

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