Country Listing

Philippines Table of Contents





Traditional methods of winnowing rice and plowing rice paddies are still extensively used.
Courtesy Philippine Tourist Research and Planning Organization

Agricultural Geography

In the late 1980s, nearly 8 million hectares--over 25 percent of total land--were under cultivation, 4.5 million hectares in field crops, and 3.2 million hectares in tree crops. Population growth reduced the amount of arable land per person employed in agriculture from about one hectare during the 1950s to around 0.5 hectare in the early 1980s. Growth in agricultural output had to come largely from multicropping and increasing yields. In 1988 double-cropping and intercropping resulted in 13.4 million hectares of harvested area, a total that was considerably greater than the area under cultivation. Palay (unhusked rice) and corn, the two cereals widely grown in the Philippines, accounted for about half of total crop area. Another 25 percent of the production area was taken up by coconuts, a major export earner. Sugarcane, pineapples, and Cavendish bananas (a dwarf variety) were also important earners of foreign exchange, although they accounted for a relatively small portion of cultivated area.

Climatic conditions are a major determinant of crop production patterns (see The Climate , ch. 2). For example, coconut trees need a constant supply of water and do not do well in areas with a prolonged dry season. Sugarcane, on the other hand, needs moderate rainfall spread out over a long growing period and a dry season for ripening and harvesting. Soil type, topography, government policy, and regional conflict between Christians and Muslims were also determinants in the patterns of agricultural activity.

Data as of June 1991