Agriculture grows in July-September quarter despite COVID-19


Agriculture grows in July-September quarter despite COVID-19

...but the overall economy declined by 11.3 per cent when compared to last year

Business reporter

Friday, November 20, 2020

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As sectors of the economy along with the added value to gross domestic product (GDP) continue to be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agricultural sector during the July-September quarter recorded positive growth.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), in a recent release of its preliminary estimates for the period, said that real value added for the agriculture, forestry & fishing industry was estimated to have recorded a two per cent increase.

Director general of the PIOJ, Dr Wayne Henry, said that the positive out-turn in this sector was as a result of good weather conditions as well as some government-implemented initiatives that helped to improve output for the industry.

“We saw responsiveness by government and Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA) among some of the players in the industry ensuring that source markets were facilitated for what was produced— that really helped the sector since the onset of the pandemic up to this quarter,” he said at a media briefing held on Wednesday, noting the productivity incentive and 'excess buy-back' programmes as two of those positive initiatives.

The PIOJ said that there was higher production in eight of the nine crop groups. “The most significant increases were recorded for fruits - up 28.3 per cent; condiments - up 22.3 per cent; other tubers - up 21.3 per cent; cereals - up 17.2 per cent and vegetables - up 15.3 per cent.”

The director general in further providing the forecast for the sector said that it is expected that the impact from the recent heavy rainfalls brought on by a number of weather systems over the past weeks would more than likely reflect some unfavorable results in the next quarter.

“We are anticipating now to have some negative fallout because of the sustained rainfall and the damage that this caused to crops in the field as well as to replanting efforts,” he said.

The construction sector for the period also recorded increases of approximately five per cent, which the PIOJ said “was reflected in an 18.3 per cent real increase in the sales of construction-related inputs.”

Real sector developments, however, saw further contractions across other major industries such as mining and quarrying down 22.9 per cent, manufacturing down 8.7 per cent along with added declines seen in the electricity and water supply industry which fell by 6.9 per cent, transport storage and communication industry by 17.4 per cent; wholesale & retail trade; repair & installation of machinery (WRTRIM) industry by 7.5 per cent; finance and insurance services by 4.5 per cent and the hotels and restaurant industry which declined by 63.8 per cent.

“Visitor expenditure was estimated to have decreased by 74.7 per cent to US$215.7 million,” the PIOJ also said noting the downturn of stop-over visitor arrivals and no-cruise passenger arrivals as the main causes of this decline.

The PIOJ in its estimates reported that for the July-September period, the economy declined by some 11.3 per cent when compared to last year. It said that economic downturns were expected to continue for the remainder of the year. In its outlook for the fiscal year an overall negative 10-12 per cent contraction was forecasted as well as a negative 9-11 per cent contraction projection for the October-December quarter.

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