Philippines Agriculture and Fishing Overview


The country’s most fertile soils are found on Luzon and Mindanao. There are most of the large plantations, the haciendas. Many of the smaller islands are also cultivated. The plantations on Mindanao mainly grow bananas, pineapples, mangoes and rubber. The farms are often run by multinational companies which, however, may not own any land in the Philippines. At the small farms, intensive cultivation of rice, maize, coconuts and sweet potatoes takes place. Livestock management is also important and is now almost entirely focused on the home market.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Philippines. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

Agricultural exports are not as important as before. Besides copra and coconut oil, mainly fruit and raw sugar are exported.

Since the late 1970s, the Philippines has been largely self-sufficient in food. The government’s goal was that the Filipinos from 2013 would be able to produce the rice consumed in the country. They were about to succeed, but many rice fields were destroyed when the typhoon Haiyan moved across the country that year. Many other crops were also destroyed, including a number of coconut palm crops. Even if new trees were planted, it would take six to eight years for production to recover. According to the UN humanitarian coordination body Ocha, 60 percent of the poor small farmers risk being forced to oblige if they did not receive outside assistance. Particularly vulnerable were the many farm workers who did not own any land. For Philippines defense and foreign policy, please check recipesinthebox.

Most of the agricultural land is owned by a small elite. In 1986, President Corazon Aquino promised a sweeping land reform, but the program that was then adopted had clear limitations. The reform was lost because many politicians who made the decisions themselves were large landowners who would be affected by the reform. It would have ended in 1998, but the end date has been postponed several times. Despite the fact that millions of Filipinos have been allocated land, the rapid increase in population means that the number of landless people is still increasing.

The problems in the countryside concern not only the lack of land but also high rents and the low wages of the farmers. Since 1986, farmer organizations have occupied abandoned land on several occasions. This poses great risks for the farmers, who, however, have been able to show that they can get large crops on land that has previously been in decline.

In 2011, it was stipulated that part of the sugar plantation Hacienda Luisita would be sold to the agricultural workers on the property at favorable prices, which was determined by the Supreme Court the following year. This was of symbolic significance since the plantation is owned by relatives of President Benigno Aquino.

The country has large fishing resources both in the sea and in inland ponds. Fish but also shrimp, peas and seagrass are exported to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, the USA and Spain. In some areas, fish stocks have decreased as a result of overfishing and water pollution. Foreign fishing fleets are active in Philippine waters.

In June 2014, the EU considered imposing import bans on fish from the Philippines unless the country did more to combat illegal fishing. In 2013, EU countries imported fish from the country worth € 165 million.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

9.3 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

41.7 percent (2016)

  • Offers how the 3-letter acronym of PHL stands for the state of Philippines in geography.



Bombing requires at least two lives

January 31

At least two people are killed and about 30 injured, including at least three severely, in a bomb attack outside a shopping mall in the city of Cotabato in Mindanao, southern Philippines. Police say they have found another explosive charge that they have managed to harm. Authorities suspect the militant Islamist group Biff performed the deed. Beef claims to have ties to the Islamic State (IS).

Over 100 dead after storm

December 31st

At least 126 people are killed when the Usman storm strikes the Bicol and Visayas regions southeast of Manila. At least 25 people are still missing. No warnings had been issued before the storm, as wind speeds were not considered high enough to justify this. According to authorities, the villagers were unwilling to leave their homes during the Christmas holidays. But the rainfall caused landslides and floods that caused houses to collapse.

The state of emergency at Mindanao is extended

December 12

Congress approves President Duterte’s proposal to extend the state of emergency on Mindanao to the end of 2019. The Senate and House of Representatives make the decision with clear numbers at a joint session (235 for and 28 against, one member abstaining). The opposition opposes the extension, which is believed to give the president and the military too great powers.


Rappler is charged with tax fraud

November 9

The Justice Department announces that it is considering prosecution of the online newspaper Rappler and its chief executive Maria Ressa for tax violations. The ministry claims that the magazine did not report a bond sale that brought in the equivalent of $ 3 million in its 2015 statement. According to Ressa, nothing in the allegations she believes is intended to silence an uncomfortable vote. If Ressa is convicted, she risks being sentenced to fines and up to ten years in prison.

Imelda Marcos is sentenced to prison for corruption

November 9

A court sentenced Imelda Marcos, widow of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was forced out of power in 1986, for corruption and orders her to be arrested. She is convicted on seven counts of having, along with her husband, embezzled about $ 200 million through Swiss foundations when she sat in the government in the 1970s and 1980s. The anti- corruption court Sandiganbayan sentenced her to prison for between six and eleven years for each of the offenses and also prohibits her from holding any public office. Imelda Marcos is now sitting in the House of Representatives and intends to run for governor next year. The judgment may be appealed. Imelda Marcos about a thousand shoes became a symbol of the widespread corruption under her husband’s rule.

Australian nun is expelled

November 3

An Australian nun, Patricia Fox, is expelled from the Philippines after serving in the country for three decades. She is accused of having interfered with the policy in violation of the rules (see April 2018).


Judges reject arrest warrant for opposition senator

22 October

A judge in Manila opposes the government and opposes the arrest warrant issued for Senator Antonio Trillanes for his role in a 2003 military uprising (see September 2018). Judge Andres Soriano justifies the decision that Trillanes has already been released from the charges in 2011. The government has said it intends to appeal the decision. At the same time, another legal process is underway on the amnesty granted by Trillanes in connection with another coup attempt in 2007, when he and a number of young officers occupied a hotel in Manila demanding that the then President Arroyo resign.

Massacre on small farmers

October 20

Some 40 armed men attack about 20 small farmers when they sow food crops on a sugar plantation near the city of Sagay on the island of Negros, the center of sugar production in the Philippines. Nine people, including four women and two children, were shot dead. Authorities say they are investigating allegations that plantation owners or people to whom they rent land have used torpedoes to carry out the deed. Negros has some of the country’s most wealthy landowners, and some of the poorest farm workers. Many poor people are co-tenants who gain access to land on condition that they leave part of the harvest. The government is now being criticized for deciding the redistribution of land at such a slow pace. In 1998, a law was passed that meant that both state and privately owned land would be distributed to landless Filipinos, but in many places the process has been halted due to litigation and other matters. There are about 20 million farm workers in the Philippines who, according to government figures,

The Senate approves legislative proposals for general care for all

October 11

The Senate approves a bill that will give all Filipinos the right to healthcare, both private and public. Those who can afford must pay for health insurance, while the state should bear the costs of elderly Filipinos and some other groups. The bill also involves investing in hiring new doctors and increasing the number of care places. As it is now, according to the Ministry of Health figures, there are 1 doctor of 33,000 inhabitants and one place of care per 1,111 inhabitants. One problem, however, is that the bill passed by the Senate does not match that adopted by the House of Representatives.


Inflation the highest in nine years

September 26th

Consumer prices are rising by more than 6 percent in August and appear to be at around 7 percent in September. This means that inflation in the country is the highest in nine years, which particularly affects the poor part of the population. The price hikes also affect the president’s popularity figures, which are still high, especially in rural areas.

Opposition senator is arrested

September 25

An arrest warrant is issued for Senator Antonio Trillanes, who has gone into opposition. This has happened since Duterte issued a decree at the beginning of the month that he should be arrested on the grounds that he has violated the terms of the amnesty he was granted in 2010. He has been accused of participating in soldier insurgency in 2003 and 2007. Trillanes has stated support for the ICC to investigate whether Duterte committed serious human rights violations, but also accused the president of corruption and his son for being involved in drug trafficking. By staying in the Senate building for several weeks, Trillanes has managed to avoid an arrest. However, the opposition politician can remain in his office until further notice after he has paid the bail.

After the disaster: temporary stop for mining in the north

September 16th

After the disaster in Itogon, where at least 60 people were killed in the landslides caused by the typhoon Mangkhut, an investigation is being added to ensure the safety of small-scale mining projects in the future, called Minahang Bayan. Mining Minister Roy Cimatu also orders a temporary stop for all mining in the Cordillera region of the Northern Philippines. Some of those killed in Itogon made a living looking for gold in an area where the Benguet Corp company had a mine that was closed in the 1990s. The mining company now says that it has not given any permission for this. Many of those killed, especially miners and their families, had sought shelter in a building that had been abandoned by the big mining company.

Over 80 dead when typhoon hits Luzon

September 16th

At least 80 people are killed when the typhoon Mangkhut sweeps across the island of Luzon in the northern parts of the country. Among the victims are some 60 people who are killed in connection with a landslide in the mining town of Itogon in the Benguet province. Another 59 people are missing. Agriculture is also hit hard. This time, however, the Philippine authorities are better prepared than 2013 when 7,000 people died in the event of severe storms. Many have been evacuated from sensitive areas, schools have been closed and the army has been prepared to participate in the rescue work.


Duterte criticizes China

August 14th

President Duterte criticizes China for building artificial islands and military air bases in the disputed South China Sea. Duterte has otherwise chosen to keep a low profile against China. He emphasizes that China cannot construct new islands and then demand the right to the airspace above them. In May 2018, Chinese fighter planes landed on airfields built around reefs near the Sprat Islands.


Draft new constitution clear

July 9

A draft of a new Philippine constitution is submitted to President Duterte. According to the proposal drawn up by an advisory committee (Consultative Committee), the Philippines is to be transformed into a federal state, and would allow the president to stand for re-election. According to the proposal, the term of office of the President (and the Vice President) should be shortened from today’s six years to four years. But the path to a new constitution is long, among other things, it must be approved in a referendum, and the support for a change seems small. An opinion poll indicates that 37 percent support the constitutional proposal, and 29 percent oppose it. A few days earlier, Duterte has said he does not intend to stand for re-election.

Eleven dead in suicide bombings at Basilan

31 July

Eleven people are killed in a suicide attack on the island of Basilan. The driver of a truck triggers an explosive charge as soldiers try to stop his vehicle for a check. One soldier and three militiamen are killed, but most of the victims are civilians. Another nine people are injured. The Islamic State (IS) claims to have done the deed. According to defense sources, the driver may have been linked to the faction of Abu Sayyaf led by Furuji Indaman and who previously stated himself to have links to IS.

Congress adopts new law on Mindanao autonomy

July 24

Congress approves a new law on the board of Mindanao. The law, which is part of the 2014 peace agreement with Milf, repeals the former Autonomous Region of Mindanao Muslims (ARMM) and instead forms the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). According to the law, the region must have a democratic government with an independent judiciary and the regional government will receive an increased share of the income from natural resources in the region. In addition, the regional government will receive a grant of the equivalent of $ 90 million to implement all parts of the peace agreement. A referendum will be conducted to decide which districts to include in the autonomous region. The law, which is formally signed by the president on August 6, is expected to play a major role in disarming and integrating former Milf soldiers into society.

Duterte promises to continue the war on drugs

23 July

In his annual speech to the nation, Duterte announces that he will continue to mercilessly crack down on drug dealers and addicts. Since the fight against drugs in the country escalated in 2016, according to the government, more than 4,300 drug addicts and sellers have been killed. But according to human rights organizations, it’s about far more, at least three times as many, according to some sources. Thousands of people demonstrate in the streets against Duterte as he gives his speech. It is not only his methods of drug control that are criticized but also the plans to change the constitution.

Controversial mayor is murdered

July 3

Antonio Halili, mayor of the city of Tanauan south of Manila, was shot dead during a ceremony outside the city hall. It is unclear who performed the murder. Halili created headlines in 2016 when he forced people suspected of drug-related crimes paradise through the city with notes on what crimes they were accused of. The government later accused him of having contacts with drug smugglers.


Ombudsman recommends prosecution against ex-President Aquino

June 20

The country’s anti-corruption ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales recommends that former President Benigno Aquino be brought to trial for, along with his budget minister, having paid the equivalent of more than a billion dollars in state funds without congressional consent. The left-wing party Bayan Muna has wanted to toughen crime, but Morales chooses not to recommend prosecution for corruption. The issue is about a program that was created in 2011, called DAP, where money saved or transferred was transferred to other public projects without the congressional request. In 2014, a court ruled that the program is incompatible with the Constitution, but did not take any action then. According to critics, the then president used the money to bargain with MPs.

Protest against murder of priests

June 19

People gather in Manila to protest the murder of three Catholic priests since December 2017. Another priest has survived a murder trial during the same period. Senator Risa Hontivero’s attempt to get the Senate to appoint an inquiry was rejected by Chamber President Vicente Sotto III. At the same time, Duterte continues to attack the Catholic Church, which has taken a leading role in criticizing the abuses that occur in connection with the president’s war on drugs.


Lourdes Sereno appeals for marketing decisions

30 May

Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was dismissed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court earlier in May, appeals the decision to the Supreme Court and calls for the right to reinstate her in the post. She points out that, according to the Constitution, a provision can only be made through a judicial process.

Agreements are intended to protect guest workers in Kuwait

May 11

Guest workers should be allowed to keep their passports and mobile phones, says a new agreement between Kuwait and the Philippines on migrant workers’ conditions. According to the news agency AFP, which has read the document, the employee must, among other things, be guaranteed health insurance. An employment contract should only be renewable if the Philippines approves it. The diplomatic crisis between the two countries is over, Philippine sources say. A few days later, the ban for Filipinos is lifted from Kuwait.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is dismissed

May 10

The Supreme Court votes to dismiss its Chief Judge Maria Lourdes Sereno. This is done with the vote numbers eight for and six against. Reasons are stated that she has not clearly stated her assets and liabilities, accusations she firmly rejects. Maria Lourdes Sereno is one of President Duterte’s foremost critics. Attempts are also underway to get her brought before the national courtin Congress. Among other things, she has been charged with having tax liabilities of the equivalent of $ 40,000 (2 million pesos) and for falsifying and otherwise manipulating legal documents. In April, President Duterte called on Congress to hurry, because unless they dismissed Lourdes Sereno, he would do it himself. Lourdes Sereno was appointed by Benigno Aquino in 2012, and was then elected over five other but more experienced lawyers. The dismissal raises concerns that the independence of the judiciary is under threat.


“Permanent stop for Philippine labor in Kuwait”

April 29

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces that the ban on Filipino citizens being newly recruited for work in Kuwait should now be considered permanent. 60 percent of Filipino guest workers who are already in the country are employed in households, according to the Philippine Foreign Ministry. Duterte urges his countrymen to return to their home country or apply for a job in China.

Kuwait expels the ambassador of the Philippines

26th of April

Kuwait expels the Philippines’ ambassador to the country and at the same time recalls the Kuwaiti ambassador from Manila. It happens after videos have been shown where embassy staff are seen helping Filipino workers leave employers accused of abuse. Kuwait claims that the Philippines by this violated the country’s sovereignty. Relations between the countries deteriorated after a Filipino maid was found dead in her employer’s freezer in February and President Duterte banned Filipinos from hiring in Kuwait. After that, until now, it seemed as if relations were about to improve and an agreement was underway for the quarter of a million Filipinos who have been working in Kuwait before.

Tourism is closed for six months

26th of April

Philippine authorities close the island of Boracay for tourists for six months on order of President Duterte. During that period, only the approximately 17,000 people living on Boracay may stay there, at the same time as the infrastructure is to be improved, including the construction of sewers, demolished buildings and the island and the surrounding sea cleaned up. In the past it was mainly backpack tourists who came here, but in recent years mass tourism has increased rapidly, especially from South Korea and China. The closure takes place under a major security precaution. The criticism of the closure has largely been about what will happen to the approximately 30,000 people working in the tourism industry on the island.

Catholic nun is arrested on Duterte’s order

April 19

It is aroused when an Australian Catholic nun, Patricia Fox, who has lived in the Philippines for a long time, is arrested by the immigration authorities accused of being involved in political activities. She denies that she has interfered with party politics and says that she has only attended protest meetings for the rights of peasants and indigenous peoples. Fox is released the next day without any prosecution being brought. President Duterte says he is the one who is undergoing a judicial investigation because she has participated in demonstrations in Mindanao where there is an emergency permit. He also emphasizes that Philippine law gives him the right to expel, or deny, foreign nationals entry. Later, Patricia Fox’s visa to the Philippines is revoked and she is given 30 days to leave the country. Previously, an Italian politician, Giacomo Filibeck, has been denied entry by the Socialist Group in the European Parliament (PES). In June, the deportation decision is lifted by the Ministry of Justice, which states that the migration authority has exceeded its powers. Fox is therefore allowed to stay in the country until her visa expires in September 2018.

Recalculation of the vice presidential election begins

2 April

The recalculation of the votes in the vice presidential election 2016 begins. This happens after the Supreme Court has given its clear sign (which happened already in 2017). Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who claims he was robbed of the victory when he lost to Leni Robredo by a margin of 260,000 votes. If Marcos Jr. is awarded the victory, it will strengthen Duterte.


Duterte: Philippines should leave ICC

14th of March

President Duterte says the Philippines should leave the International Criminal Court (ICC). This has happened since the ICC launched a preliminary investigation against him on suspicion of human rights violations committed in connection with his war on drugs. Duterte criticizes the court and the UN in harsh terms and says the decision should come into force with immediate effect. According to the regulations, a country must notify the UN Secretary-General one year in advance before leaving. Duterte argues that these rules cannot apply to the Philippines, which he says has been tricked into signing the so-called Rome Statutes. However, the formal process for withdrawal begins a few days later. Duterte then calls on other political leaders to follow the example of the Philippines.


Divorce on the way to legalization?

February 27th

A proposal to allow divorce has now reached the committee stage in the House of Representatives, but it is not yet certain that the legislation will change. An earlier attempt to legalize divorce was made in 2005. Since then, public opinion on a law change has been strengthened. According to a 2014 opinion poll, just over 60 percent of those polled asked for a law change, compared with 43 percent in 2005. The Philippines is now the only country in the world, aside from the Vatican, which does not allow divorce.

Duterte wants court to stamp NPA as a terrorist organization

February 21st

The Justice Department, on the direct assignment of President Duterte, is turning to a regional court in Manila to have the Communist guerrilla NPA stamped as a terrorist organization. The ministry has also compiled a list of 600 individuals who are referred to as terrorists, among them the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, a congressman and several priests. Already in January, Communist leader Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Tiamzon, who, prior to the peace negotiations with the NPA, had been released free of bail, were arrested again.

The government calls itself the US ambassador after critical US report

February 23

The Philippine government is calling on the US ambassador to the country to protest against President Duterte and the war on drugs in a US intelligence report, the Worldwide Threat Assessment, identified as a “regional threat”. After the meeting, the US embassy sends out a press release stating that the report consists of information that was already known and emphasizes that cooperation between the two countries should continue.

Duterte’s employees are being investigated by the Senate

February 19

The Senate opens an investigation into whether a close associate of President Christopher “Bong” Go has intervened in the procurement of two frigates for the defense and thereby exceeded its powers. This is done after several documents leaked to the media..

Free return trip for guest workers in Kuwait, after suspected murder

February 17th

After a Filipino woman, Joanna Demafelis, was found dead in a freezer box in Kuwait, President Duterte offers guest workers in the Gulf state to travel home at the state’s expense. According to CNN news site, thousands of Filipino guest workers must have visited the Embassy of the Philippines to obtain travel documents so they can return home. Demafelis may have been in the freezer for a whole year, as she has not heard from her family in such a long time. Her body shows injuries that indicate she has been tortured. The suspected couple is later arrested in Damascus, Syria. A Kuwaiti court later sentenced them to death. However, the man is in Lebanon and the woman in Syria.

ICC reviews Duterte’s “war on drugs”

February 8

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is launching a preliminary investigation into the crimes against humanity that may have been committed as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs. It is, according to ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, about reports of extrajudicial executions and that she is closely following developments in the Philippines. Bensouda emphasizes that this is not a formal investigation. There are no exact data on how many were killed as part of the war on drugs, but according to Human Rights Watch, there are about 12,000.

Duterte thanks no to summit with EU

February 7

President Duterte refuses to participate in a summit between the EU and several Asian countries. He also makes clear what he thinks of the EU’s criticism of his war on drugs. However, the EU has not taken seriously its threat to withdraw its trade benefits due to the lack of respect for human rights in the Philippines.

The Supreme Court approves the state of emergency

6th of February

The Supreme Court now also approves the state of emergency in Mindanao and the Sulu Islands that Congress adopted at the end of 2017. The court raised the matter after activist groups demanded it be lifted, out of concern that it would give Duterte dictatorial powers.

Duterte bans Chinese marine research

February 5

President Duterte bans all foreign scientific research into the waters outside the Philippines. He urges the military to prevent all foreign vessels without permission to enter Philippine waters. The decision appears to be aimed at China, since Chinese oceanographers were previously allowed to work there. It is speculated whether this is yet another fluctuation in foreign policy, and what it means for the thawing weather that has recently prevailed between the countries. But Americans and Japanese have also done research in the area. The area of ​​particular concern is Benham Rise which the Philippine Government renamed Philippine Rise.


Stop for Filipinos to take work in Kuwait

January 18

Following reports of abuses against Filipino women working in Kuwait, the Philippine government is stopping, at least temporarily, all labor migration there, but also threatens to ban Filipinos from working in other countries in the Middle East. President Duterte accuses Kuwaiti employers of causing at least four women to take their lives. He also criticizes long working days and for routinely raping his employees. More than a quarter of a million Filipinos work in Kuwait, many of them as domestic workers. More than two million Filipinos work in the region. The money they send home is an important contribution to the Philippines economy.

Duterte wants a new constitution

January 16

Congress is gathering to debate a proposal by a parliamentary commission on whether the Philippines should be transformed into a five-region federation. According to the proposal, a parliamentary system is to be introduced, where the government is led by a prime minister, but the president still has extensive powers. The commission, led by Duterte’s party mate Congress leader Roger Mercado, proposes that the head of state be elected for two terms in five years. President Duterte has said that he wants Congress to vote on a new constitution in May 2019. One purpose of the change is, according to the president, to give the regions more power, and that this is especially true of Mindanao, where he hopes a constitutional reform will help to end the conflicts there.

News site loses license

January 15

The Philippine Financial Supervisory Authority Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revokes the license for the Rappler news site following allegations that it violated the rules that domestic media may not be owned by foreign companies. However, Rappler can appeal the decision within 15 days. President Duterte has repeatedly criticized Rappler, founded in 2011, for its reporting, claiming that the site is entirely American-owned. Rappler says the decision is about “pure harassment” and that the company is entirely Filipino but that Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and North Base Media, an independent fund started by three journalists.

Philippines Agriculture and Fishing