The Philippines' rice production increased 2.3 percent year-on-year to hit a record 18.44 million tonnes in 2013 thanks to strong harvests in the fourth quarter, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) reported.

The BAS on January 17 said, despite the onslaught of super typhoon Haiyan in the central parts of the country on November 8, paddy production in the fourth quarter, the peak season for harvest, increased 8.2 percent to 7.08 million tonnes from 6.54 million tonnes a year ago.

Output gains were noted in Central Luzon, Caraga, Bicol region and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao last year.

The BAS said overall harvest area expanded 1.2 percent from 4.69 million hectares in 2012 to 4.75 million hectares in 2013. Productivity also improved, with yield per hectare rising 1 percent to 3.89 tonnes last year from 3.84 tonnes in 2012.

The BAS said rice production this year was expected to reach another record high. Paddy harvest in the first half of 2014 was forecast to reach 8.43 million tonnes, up by 5.4 percent as compared to the same period last year.

It said harvest area would likely expand by 3.7 percent to 2.12 million hectares in the January-June period from last year’s 2.04 million hectares while yield per hectare would increased 1.7 percent to 3.98 tonnes from 3.91 tonnes/ha in the corresponding period last year.-VNA