Country Focus Data: Philippines

by Mindy Dake
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An archipelago in Southeast Asia, the Republic of the Philippines' capital is Manila on Luzon, the most populous and northernmost of the country's 7,100 islands.
Demography: Population (1994), 69.8 million, 1.9% annual growth rate (1994 estimate); Filipino and English, both official languages; Roman Catholic, Protestant religions.
Geography: 300,000 square km total area; 36,289 km coastline; tropical marine climate.
Government: Republic. Chief of state and head of government is President Fidel V. Ramos.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture, National Food Authority.
Economy: Capitalist. Agriculture accounts for about 20% of gross domestic product and employs 45% of the labor force.
After a decade of reform and economic stagnation, the Philippines in the past two years has enjoyed positive growth. According to the World Bank, this situation is likely to be sustained, based on reduced inflation, a build-up of international reserves, debt restructuring and a stabilized political climate. Medium-term projections are for annual growth of about 5%.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$2,500 (1993 estimate).
Currency: the peso. March 15, 1995 exchange rate: 25.9 pesos per U.S. dollar.
Major crops: Rice, maize, tropical oils.
Rice: Rice is the most important crop and food staple, and production averages about 6.4 million tonnes, milled basis. It is grown throughout the country, and about half the total area is irrigated.
Per capita rice consumption is about 98 kg annually. Although wheat products are making headway in the Philippine diet, especially in urban areas, rice consumption continues to increase, a result of an overall jump in caloric intake.
Maize: Maize is another key grain crop and food staple, with annual production at about 4.9 million tonnes. The main production areas are on the southern islands of Mindanao and Visayas. Some 60% of production is yellow maize for feed; the remainder is white maize, consumed as grits and as a source of starch.
Per capita human maize consumption has declined in recent years. Government policies contributing to high prices and the increasing popularity of wheat foods are factors. But feed use has been increasing, a trend that should continue as meat demand expands.
Wheat: The Philippines grows no wheat for commercial use, although a few experimental plots exist. Wheat may be freely imported at a 10% tariff. The United States and Canada are traditional suppliers, with Australia and Saudi Arabia completing occasional sales.
Total wheat consumption is increasing by about 10% to 15% each year and in the past three years has averaged 2.2 million tonnes annually. Most of the wheat is consumed as food, although feed wheat usage has been on the rise since 1991, when most coarse grain imports were banned.
Livestock: The pork and poultry industries have grown steadily in the past 10 to 15 years, with production and consumption up by 80% for pork and by more than 100% for poultry. The beef and veal sector has grown at a more modest 55% to 60% over the past decade, but production has not kept pace with consumption, and beef and veal imports increased by 81% from 1990 to 1994.
Transportation: 378 km of operable railroads on Luzon island; 157,450 km of total highways, 14% of which are paved. Major grain handling ports are Manila, Cebu, Davao and Iloilo. A new U.S.$30 million bulk grain port facility has been built at Mariveles, on the southern Bataan peninsula across the bay from Manila.