TACLOBAN CITY – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) here in the region has expressed concern over declining share of farming and fishery sector to the regional economy despite being a major source of income for majority of the region’s population. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that agriculture hunting, forestry and fishing (AHFF) sector had a share of 16.7 percent to the 2015 Gross Regional Domestic Product. Of the P152.21 billion generated from various economic activities last year, AHFF only contributed P25.41 billion to the total output. “Natural threats such as the effects of El Niño and the impact of typhoon Nona have aggravated the already fragile agricultural production of the region after the 2013 supertyphoon Yolanda,” said NEDA Regional Director Bonifacio Uy. The farming sector’s share to the regional economy further declined from 20.1 percent in 2013 and 18 percent in 2014, according to PSA. The two other sectors remained the top contributors to the 2015 GRDP – services (41.9 percent) and industry (41.4 percent). However, the region is still a predominantly agriculture region. At least 723,048 hectares out of the region’s total land area of 2.32 million hectares are devoted to farming. The region has 721,724 farmers as of 2014, according to the Department of Agriculture. Presuming that each farmer supports five family members, about 3.6 million of the more the four million population in the region depends on AHFF. “A lot of people here are supported by agriculture sector. Productivity must be improved because there is the potential to generate more income,” Uy said. The official also noted the worldwide trend that less young people are interested to venture into farming-related activities. For instance, in Leyte, the 2013 National Farmers Registry System (NFRS) revealed that 52 percent of farmers in the province are 50 years and above while 25 percent of the farming workforce are 40 to 49 years old. Farmers within the 30 to 39 age bracket accounts 17 percent of farm owners and workers. Those in the age of 20 to 29 are only six percent while those with age of 20 and younger comprise only less than one percent of the workforce. “There is a general observation that our young people see more income opportunities in other sectors. That is why our state universities and colleges are encouraging more students to enroll in agriculture courses by offering scholarships,” Uy added. The NEDA official is optimistic about the future of agricultural development with the commitment and budget support of the new administration and local government units.