Agriculture in the Philippines

Agriculture in the Philippines is an important part of the economy of the Philippines with crops like rice, coconut and sugar dominating the production of crops and exports. It employs 23% of the Filipino workforce as of 2021, according to the World Bank.[1]

Rice paddies in Balagtas, Bulacan.

The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable agricultural systems to monsoons and other extreme weather events,[2] which are expected to create more uncertainty as climate change effects the Philippines. However, the Food and Agriculture Organization has described the local policy measures as some of the most proactive in risk reduction.[3]


The means by which agriculture expanded into the Philippines is argued by many different anthropologists and an exact date of its origin is unknown.[4][5][6][7] However, there are proxy indicators and other pieces of evidence that allow anthropologists to get an idea of when different crops reached the Philippines and how they may have gotten there.[8][9] Rice is an important agricultural crop today in the Philippines and many countries throughout the world import rice and other products from the Philippines.[10]


In the Philippines, the official professional designation is Licensed and Registered Agriculturist[11] but is more commonly shortened as "Licensed Agriculturist" or more simply as "Agriculturist". They are licensed and accredited after successfully passing the Agriculturist Licensure Examination, regulated by the Professional Regulation Commission and the Board of Agriculture.[12] A Licensed Agriculturist can affix the title “L.Agr.” (as name suffix) or "Agr." (as name prefix) to indicate the profession.[13]

The primary role of agriculturists are to prepare technical plans, specifications, and estimates of agriculture projects such as in the construction and management of farms and agribusiness enterprises.[14] The practice of agriculture also includes the following:

  • Consultation, evaluation, investigation, and management of agriculture projects
  • Research and studies in soil analysis and conservation, crop production, breeding of livestock and poultry, tree planting, and other biotechniques
  • Conduct training and extension services on soil analysis and conservation, crop production, breeding of livestock and poultry, tree planting
  • Teaching of agriculture subjects in schools, colleges, and university
  • Management of organizations related to agriculture, both in private and government (eg. Office of the Provincial Agriculturist)

A prospective professional agriculturist is typically required to have a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture, although other degree programs directly-related to agriculture are also allowed to take the licensure examination if they earn at least eighteen (18) units of agriculture credits from a recognized higher education institution.[15] About 5,500 registered agriculturists pass the licensure examination annually.[16] It is one of the hardest licensure examinations in the country with 29.84% passing rate in November 2021.[17][18]

The agriculturist profession and its board of agriculturists were created in 2002 by the Professional Regulation Commission,[15] in order to "upgrade the agriculture and fisheries profession"[19] by the virtue of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997. The practice of the agriculture profession is a professional service admission. Similar to other professions in the Philippines, malpractice and illegal practice of agriculture are grounds for suspension or revocation of certificates of registration and professional licenses.[20] Licensed agriculturists in the Philippines are integrated into one accredited integrated professional organization, which is the Philippine Association of Agriculturists.



Philippine provinces Annual Rice Production 2017

The Philippines is the 8th largest rice producer in the world, accounting for 2.8% of global rice production.[21] The Philippines was also the world's largest rice importer in 2010.[22] In 2010, nearly 15.7 million metric tons of palay (pre-husked rice) were produced.[23] In 2010, palay accounted for 21.86% percent of gross value added in agriculture and 2.37% of GNP.[24] Self-sufficiency in rice reached 88.93% in 2015.[25]

Rice production in the Philippines has grown significantly since the 1950s. Improved varieties of rice developed during the Green Revolution, including at the International Rice Research Institute based in the Philippines, have improved crop yields. Crop yields have also improved due to increased use of fertilizers. Average productivity increased from 1.23 metric tons per hectare in 1961 to 3.59 metric tons per hectare in 2009.[21]

Harvest yields have increased significantly by using foliar fertilizer (Rc 62 -> 27% increase, Rc 80 -> 40% increase, Rc 64 -> 86% increase) based on PhilRice National Averages.

The government has been promoting the production of Golden rice.[26]

The table below shows some of the agricultural products of the country per region.[27]

Region Rice Corn/maize Coconut Sugarcane Pineapple Watermelon Banana
Ilocos Region 1,777,122 490,943 39,463 19,512 197 26,936 43,164
Cordillera (CAR) 400,911 237,823 1,165 51,787 814 141 26,576
Cagayan Valley 2,489,647 1,801,194 77,118 583,808 35,129 7,416 384,134
Central Luzon 3,304,310 271,319 167,737 678,439 1,657 7,103 58,439
NCR 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Calabarzon 392,907 64,823 1,379,297 1,741,706 88,660 2,950 96,306
MIMAROPA 1,081,833 125,492 818,146 0 448 3,192 168,299
Bicol Region 1,264,448 243,908 1,105,743 239,010 130,595 5,598 76,452
Western Visayas 1,565,585 213,362 294,547 1,682,940 12,687 83,336 200,222
Negros Island Region 557,632 185,747 274,315 13,440,259 9,468 546 157,974
Central Visayas 269,801 101,333 274,069 241,573 998 1,161 126,220
Eastern Visayas 955,709 91,145 1,165,867 179,363 7,186 670 227,223
Zamboanga Peninsula 661,775 220,180 1,682,121 107 1,657 638 281,856
Northern Mindanao 725,120 1,216,301 1,851,702 3,065,463 1,468,386 2,024 1,832,173
Davao Region 441,868 224,100 2,246,188 208,743 26,880 1,070 3,455,014
Soccsksargen 1,291,644 1,239,275 1,159,818 680,383 794,334 2,132 1,159,091
Caraga Region 653,431 118,774 804,722 0 2,682 3,010 259,738
ARMM 488,215 673,036 1,393,168 113,343 921 80 531,048


2017 Annual Corn Production of Philippine provinces

Corn/maize is the second most important crop in the Philippines. 600,000 farm households are employed in different businesses in the corn value chain. As of 2012, around 2.594 million hectares (6.41×10^6 acres) of land is under corn cultivation and the total production was 7.408 million metric tons (8.166×10^6 short tons).[28] The government has been promoting Bt corn for hardiness against insects and higher yields.[26]

Other food crops


Annual cacao production of Philippine provinces 2016
The chocolate industry in the Philippines developed after introducing the cocoa tree into Philippine agriculture. The growing of cacao or cocoa boasts a long history stretching from the colonial times. Originating from Mesoamerican forests, cacao was first introduced by the Spanish colonizers four centuries ago.[29] Since then the Philippine cocoa industry has been the primary producer of cocoa beans in the Southeast Asia. There are many areas of production of cacao in the Philippines, owing to soil and climate. The chocolate industry is currently on a small to medium scale.


Liberica coffee beans from Mindoro.

Coffee was said to have been introduced in the Philippines around 1696 when the Dutch introduced coffee in the islands. It was once a major industry in the Philippines, which by the 1800s was the fourth largest coffee producing nation.[30]

However, Islamic culture has been pervaded by coffee drinkers from the 1500s. And with the close ties of the Philippines to the Islamic World since the 12th century, it would not be impossible to speculate that coffee has been in the Philippines before the Dutch "introduced" it.[31]

As of 2014, the Philippines produces 25,000 metric tons of coffee and is ranked 110th in terms of output. However local demand for coffee is high with 100,000 metric tons of coffee consumed in the country per year.[32]

The Philippines is one of the few countries that produce the four main viable coffee varieties; Arabica, Liberica (Barako), Excelsa and Robusta.[33] 90 percent of coffee produced in the country is Robusta. There have been efforts to revitalize the coffee industry.[34]


Coconuts plays an important role in the national economy of the Philippines. According to figures published in December 2015 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it is the world's largest producer of coconuts, producing 19,500,000 tonnes in 2015.[35] Production in the Philippines is generally concentrated in medium-sized farms.[36] There are 3.5 million hectares dedicated to coconut production in the Philippines, which accounts for 25 per cent of total agricultural land in the country.[37] In 1989, it was estimated that between 25 percent and 33 percent of the population was at least partly dependent on coconuts for their livelihood. Historically, the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions of Luzon and the Eastern Visayas were the centers of coconut production.[38] In the 1980s, Western Mindanao and Southern Mindanao also became important coconut-growing regions.[38]


Strawberries grown in the Philippines.

The Philippines is the world's third largest producer of pineapples, producing more than 2.4 million of tonnes in 2015.[39] The Philippines was in the top three banana producing countries in 2010, including India and China.[40] Davao and Mindanao contribute heavily to the total national banana crop.[40] Mangoes are the third most important fruit crop of the country based on export volume and value next to bananas and pineapples.[41]


Raw sugar produced in a mill in the nation.

There are at least 19 provinces and 11 regions that produce sugarcane in the Philippines. A range from 360,000 to 390,000 hectares are devoted to sugarcane production. The largest sugarcane areas are found in the Negros Island Region, which accounts for 51% of sugarcane areas planted. This is followed by Mindanao which accounts for 20%; Luzon by 17%; Panay by 07%; and Eastern Visayas by 04%.[42] It is estimated that as of 2012, the industry provides direct employment to 700,000 sugarcane workers spread across 19 sugar producing provinces.[43]

Sugar growing in the Philippines pre-dates colonial Spanish contact.[44] Sugar became the most important agricultural export of the Philippines between the late eighteenth century and the mid-1970s.[44] During the 1950s and 60s, more than 20 percent income of Philippine exports came from the sugar industry.[44] Between 1913 and 1974, the Philippines sugar industry enjoyed favoured terms of trade with the US, with special access to the protected and subsidized the American sugar market.[44]

Animal agriculture


Aquaculture in the Philippines (which includes fish, shellfish, and seaweed farming) comprises 39% of the country's fisheries sector. The rest of the fisheries sector is composed of commercial and municipal fishing.[45]

Some of the more common aquaculture products in the Philippines are bangus, tilapia, catfish and mudfish, and prawns.[45]

Up to 27% of total aquaculture production comes from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao.[45]

Aquaculture accounts for 51% of fish produced in the country.[46]

Climate change poses a major threat to fishing and fish farming in the Philippines.[47]


Philippine crocodiles (Crocodylus mindorensis) in a crocodile farm in Palawan, Philippines, in 2010.

Crocodile farming in the Philippines refers to agricultural industries involving the raising and harvesting of crocodiles for the commercial production of crocodile meat and crocodile leather.

In the Philippines, crocodile farmers breed and raise two species of Philippine crocodiles: the Philippine saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)[48] and the Philippine freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis). Farms that trade crocodile skin are regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).[48][49]

Crocodiles help maintain the balance of Philippine ecosystems such as wetlands; crocodile farming in the Philippines is also geared towards the rescue and conservation of both C. porosus and the "endangered and endemic" C. mindorensis. Crocodile farms also contribute to tourism in the Philippines and offer public education about crocodiles.[48][49]


The business of ostrich farming in the Philippines began in the Philippines in 1996. It was started by Lorenzo U. Limketkai, an engineer, and his son Heintje Limketkai. Heintje Limketkai took a month-long training course on ostrich farming in Australia. After that training, the Limketkais established their ostrich farming business and named it as the Philippine Ostrich and Crocodile Farms, Inc.,[50] becoming the first combined ostrich and crocodile farm in the country.[51]

Other crops


Abaca weaving in a Bohol bee farm

According to the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority, the Philippines provided 87.4% of the world's abaca in 2014, earning the Philippines US$111.33 million.[52] The demand is still greater than the supply.[52] The remainder came from Ecuador (12.5%) and Costa Rica (0.1%).[52] The Bicol region in the Philippines produced 27,885 metric tons of abaca in 2014, the largest of any Philippine region.[52] The Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) and the Department of Agriculture reported that in 2009–2013, Bicol Region had 39% share of Philippine abaca production while overwhelming 92% comes from Catanduanes Island. Eastern Visayas, the second largest producer had 24% and the Davao Region, the third largest producer had 11% of the total production. Around 42 percent of the total abaca fiber shipments from the Philippines went to the United Kingdom in 2014, making it the top importer.[52] Germany imported 37.1 percent abaca pulp from the Philippines, importing around 7,755 metric tons (MT).[52] Sales of abaca cordage surged 20 percent in 2014 to a total of 5,093 MT from 4,240 MT, with the United States holding around 68 percent of the market.[52]


A plantation worker in Basilan in 1984 cuts into a rubber tree to harvest latex used as a main ingredient in making natural rubber.

There are an estimated 458,000 families dependent upon the cultivation of rubber trees. Rubber is mainly planted in Mindanao, with some plantings in Luzon and the Visayas.[53] As of 2013, the total rubber production is 111,204 tons.[54]


The Food and Agriculture Organization described local policy measures as some of the most proactive in risk reduction.[3] The government supports the approval and cultivation of genetically modified crops.[26]

Department of Agriculture

Department of Agriculture building

The Department of Agriculture (abbreviated as DA; Filipino: Kagawaran ng Agrikultura) is the executive department of the Philippine government responsible for the promotion of agricultural and fisheries development and growth.[55] It has its headquarters at Elliptical Road corner Visayas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City.

The department is currently led by the secretary of agriculture, nominated by the president of the Philippines and confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. The secretary is a member of the Cabinet. The current secretary is Bongbong Marcos, who assumed office on June 30, 2022 in concurrent capacity as President.

Land reform

Land reform in the Philippines has long been a contentious issue rooted in the Philippines's Spanish Colonial Period. Some efforts began during the American Colonial Period with renewed efforts during the Commonwealth, following independence, during Martial Law and especially following the People Power Revolution in 1986. The current law, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, was passed following the revolution and extended until 2014.

Environmental and social issues


Some agricultural practices, including export crops and encroachment by small farmers, lead to deforestation.[56] Deforestation may in turn affect water supply needed by farms.[56]

Water supply and soil quality

Due to the loss of watershed areas, water supply and quality have decreased. Deforestation has also resulted in erosion and siltation, leading to worsened water quality.[56]

Heavy use of chemical fertilizers have also led to declining soil quality.[56]

Climate change

Agriculture is one of the Philippines’ largest sectors and will continue to be adversely impacted by the effects of climate change. The agriculture sector employs 35% of the working population and generated 13% of the country's GDP in 2009.[57] The two most important crops, rice and corn, account for 67% of the land under cultivation and stand to see reduced yields from heat and water stress.[57] Rice, wheat, and corn crops are expected to see a 10% decrease in yield for every 1 °C increase over a 30 °C average annual temperature.[58]

Increases in extreme weather events will have devastating affects on agriculture. Typhoons (high winds) and heavy rainfall contribute to the destruction of crops, reduced soil fertility, altered agricultural productivity through severe flooding, increased runoff, and soil erosion.[58] Droughts and reduced rainfall leads to increased pest infestations that damage crops as well as an increased need for irrigation.[58] Rising sea levels increases salinity which leads to a loss of arable land and irrigation water.[58]

All of these factors contribute to higher prices of food and an increased demand for imports, which hurts the general economy as well as individual livelihoods.[58] From 2006 to 2013, the Philippines experienced a total of 75 disasters that cost the agricultural sector $3.8 billion in loss and damages.[58] Typhoon Haiyan alone cost the Philippines' agricultural sector an estimated US$724 million after causing 1.1 million tonnes of crop loss and destroying 600,000 ha of farmland.[59] The agricultural sector is expected to see an estimated annual GDP loss of 2.2% by 2100 due to climate impacts on agriculture.[58]

Land conversion

Agricultural areas are being subjected to land conversion to make way for development projects, to the detriment of farmers' welfare and the country's food security.[60]

Poverty among farmers

Farmers and fishers belong to the poorest sectors of Philippine society. The incidence of poverty among farmers was estimated at 31.6% in 2018[61] (compared to the 16.7% national poverty incidence),[62] according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

See also


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