(Adds quotes from agriculture minister, background)
MANILA Dec 20 Philippine farm output growth
could speed up to 7 percent to 8 percent next year as the
Southeast Asian nation looks to ship more agricultural products
to markets like China, the agriculture minister said.
China lifted a ban on Philippine exports of pineapples and
bananas in October and pledged to import more fish and farm
products from the Southeast Asian nation after President Rodrigo
Duterte vowed to build a commercial alliance with Beijing.
"Our farmers are upbeat nowadays because of the opening of
new export markets for them," Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel
Piñol told a media briefing on Tuesday.
Next year's growth target in agriculture would outpace this
year's forecast of a 3.5 percent to 5.0 percent increase. Piñol
said 2016 growth would be supported by another bumper rice
harvest in the final quarter, thanks largely to favourable
He expected unmilled rice output to rise to 18.57 million
tonnes next year from a projected 17.9 million tonnes this year
as the government increases support to farmers by providing more
seeds and irrigation services.
The moves should boost average yield per hectare to six
tonnes in some areas from close to four tonnes currently, he
Piñol said the Philippines, one of the world's biggest rice
importers, was on track to be self sufficient in rice production
Agriculture accounts for about a tenth of the country's
gross domestic product, but Piñol said he wants to raise the
sector's contribution to overall economic output to 20 percent.
(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.
and Richard Pullin)