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What are the Main Agricultural Products in the Philippines?

The Philippines is a large developing agricultural country with middle income. Agricultural development is directly related to the social stability, food security and poverty reduction of the whole country. The agricultural sector has long been an important source of employment and income for Filipino farmers. However, due to various reasons, there have been many problems in its agricultural development, leading to the failure of agricultural goal of food self-sufficiency. This article will briefly introduce the main agricultural products in the Philippines and some problems in the development of Philippine agriculture.

Chief Industrial Products in Philippines

Diversified crops are produced in Philippines. Rice and corn are the major ones, which are mainly used for domestic consumption. Rice is the most important food crop in the Philippines, accounting for a large proportion in agricultural production. The second largest food crop in the Philippines is corn. In addition to being used as a staple food, corn is also a relief food when rice production is insufficient in the Philippines. It can also be processed to animal feed. Cebu is the main production area of corn.

Cash crops in Philippines mainly include coconut, sugarcane, tobacco, abaca, banana, pineapple, rubber and so on. Coconut, sugarcane, tobacco and abaca are the four traditional cash crops in the Philippines, which are mainly used for export. Coconut is the largest cash crop in the Philippines, accounting for a quarter of all agricultural land and more than one fifth of all agricultural exports.The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that about 3.6 million hectares of coconut trees are planted all over the country, dominating the landscape in 68 out of the total 81 provinces. In 2019, the production volume of coconut in the Philippines was around 14.8 million metric tons.

In the livestock and poultry production sector in the Philippines, pigs and chickens have dominated production over the past four decades, and these two animals are the main sources of pork, chicken and eggs that are now considered the staple foods of the country. Among animal products, chicken production has been the real contributor to the growth of the livestock and poultry industry, increasing nearly fivefold between 1990 and 2013, followed by egg production, which increased by 169% over the same period. Almost all of the Country's animal products are destined for domestic consumers, with only a small amount exported. Chicken and egg production has become a commercial operation to meet growing domestic demand.

The Philippines is an archipelagic country surrounded by the sea on all sides. Its sea area is 1,830 square kilometers and has a coastline of 36,289 kilometers. Therefore, it is rich in aquatic resources, with more than 2,400 fish species and tuna resources in the forefront of the world. The developed marine and freshwater fishing grounds cover an area of 2,080 square kilometers.

Problems in Philippines Industry

  1. The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. According to the 2014 World Risk Index, the Philippines has the second highest risk of natural disasters in the world, making it one of the most vulnerable countries in the global agricultural sector. The country is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and also in the typhoon belt, so it is subject to frequent natural disasters every year, causing huge losses to agricultural assets and infrastructure, food security and social development. It is estimated that in the late 2000s, typhoons, droughts and floods caused damage to agriculture equivalent to 3 per cent of total agricultural output each year.
  2. Arable land resources are relatively poor. The total area ofPhilippines is about 300,000 square kilometers, including 298,170 square kilometers of land area and 1,830 square kilometers of ocean area. Its topography is complex and diverse, mainly mountains (accounting for two-thirds of the land area) and few plains. Due to deforestation, agricultural land in the Philippines has increased by 11% since 1990 and has remained at about 12.4 million hectares since 2012, accounting for 42% of the Philippines’ land area. However, with the population growth of 54% in the same period, the amount of agricultural land per capita decreased to only 0.13 HA in 2012, about one-sixth of the world average.
  3. Inefficient irrigation system. In order to ensure the normal growth of crops and obtain high and stable yields, it is necessary to supply crops with sufficient water. Under natural conditions,  the crop can not meet the water requirements often due to insufficient precipitation or uneven distribution. Therefore, artificial irrigation is necessary to compensate for the lack of natural rainfall. As of 2015, 6.1 million hectares, or 57 percent of the country’s arable land, were irrigated, and 2.4 million hectares were unirrigated. Moreover, the existing irrigation facilities did not achieve the desired effect in the actual production. This is mainly due to poor design, difficult maintenance, inadequate water supply and so on. At the beginning of construction, the water consumption was not estimated enough. In addition, certain water waste would be caused in the actual irrigation process, leading to the insufficiency of irrigation facilities to meet the actual needs of farmland. Secondly, natural disasters such as typhoons may destroy facilities.River courses are sometimes diverted.