The Philippines Economy
The Philippines is still primarily an agricultural country despite the plan to make it an industrialized economy by 2000. Most citizens still live in rural areas and support themselves through agriculture. The country’s agriculture sector is made up of 4 sub-sectors: farming, fisheries, livestock, and forestry (the latter 2 sectors are very small), which together employ 39.8 percent of the labor force and contribute 20 percent of GDP.
The country’s main agricultural crops are rice, corn, coconut, sugarcane, bananas, pineapple, coffee, mangoes, tobacco, and abaca (a banana-like plant). Secondary crops include peanut, cassava, camote (a type of rootcrop), garlic, onion, cabbage, eggplant, calamansi (a variety of lemon), rubber, and cotton. The year 1998 was a bad year for agriculture because of adverse weather conditions. Sector output shrank by 8.3 percent, but it posted growth the following year. Yet, hog farming and commercial fishing posted declines in their gross revenues in 1999. The sector is burdened with low productivity for most of its crops.
The Philippines exports its agricultural products around the world, including the United States, Japan, Europe, and ASEAN countries (members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Major export products are coconut oil and other coconut products, fruits and vegetables, bananas, and prawns (a type of shrimp). Other exports include the Cavendish banana, Cayenne pineapple, tuna, seaweed, and carrageenan. The value of coconut-product exports amounted to US$989 million in 1995 but declined to US$569 million by 2000. Imported agricultural products include unmilled wheat and meslin, oilcake and other soybean residues, malt and malt flour, urea, flour, meals and pellets of fish, soybeans and whey.
One of the most pressing concerns of the agricultural sector is the rampant conversion of agricultural land into golf courses, residential subdivisions, and industrial parks or resorts. In 1993 the nation was losing irrigated rice lands at a rate of 2,300 hectares per year. Small land-holders find it more profitable to sell their land to developers in exchange for cash, especially since they lack capital for seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and wages for hiring workers to plant and harvest the crops. Another concern is farmers’ continued reliance on chemical-based fertilizers or pesticides that have destroyed soil productivity over time. In recent years however, farmers have been slowly turning to organic fertilizer, or at least to a combination of chemical and organic