Agriculture and Fishery Modernization Plan (2012-2017) Eastern Visayas


A.    Location

Eastern Visayas is one of three regions situated in central Philippines and serves as a link to Luzon and Mindanao through the National Maharlika Highway that runs through it.  It is bound by the Surigao Channel and the island of Mindanao on the south; by the San Bernardino Strait and the tip of the Bicol Peninsula on the north; the Maqueda Bay, Camotes and Visayan Seas, and the islands of Cebu and Bohol on the west; and the Leyte Gulf, the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean on the east.

B.    Total Land Area

Comprised of the large islands of Leyte, Samar and Biliran, as well as a number of smaller ones, the region has a total land area of 2,156,285 hectares (ha), accounting for 7.1% of the whole country.  Samar Island, the third biggest island in the country, the second biggest in the Visayas, and the biggest in the region, measures 1,355,935 ha or 63% of the whole region.  It is where three of the region’s six provinces, namely, Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar, are located.  Meanwhile, the island of Leyte, on which are located the Leyte and Southern Leyte provinces, measures 744,760 ha or 35% of the region.  Biliran island, a province on its own, is 55,550 ha big (Table 1).

Table 1. Land Classification by Province (in ‘000 ha). 
ProvinceAlienable and DisposableForest LandsTotal 
So. Leyte424.991319.961738.02 
E. Samar17020.2138929.5855925.93 
N. Samar14517.2420615.6735116.28 
Source: RPFP – Eastern Visayas, 2004, as quoted in DA RFU8. 2009, as previously cited. 

C.    Topography and Climate

The islands of Samar, Leyte and Biliran are characterized by flat lands near and along the coasts and mountains and hills in the interior.  It has Types A and C climates, both of which are defined by wet or rainy weather in most of the year, with the former having around 10 months of rain and the latter with around seven months.  Both climates are ideal for agricultural production.

A majority (61%) of the region’s lands is forest land and the rest is alienable and disposable.  Of the region’s provinces, Leyte has the biggest alienable and disposable lands while Samar has the biggest forest lands. More than a third (39%) of the region’s land has a slope of 0%-18%, these areas being described as from level to rolling.  Meanwhile, a majority (51%) has slopes ranging from 18% to 50%.  The rest has slopes in excess of 50% and is protected forest lands.

D.    Land Use

Eastern Visayas is an agricultural area.  Forty-five percent (45%) or 976,415 ha of its total land area is devoted to agriculture.  Twenty-eight percent (28%) is forest lands, 25% is grasslands and the rest is used for other purposes.
Of its agricultural lands, 70% is planted to coconut and 20% is planted to rice and corn.  The rest is planted to other crops, used to raise livestock and poultry, or produce inland fishery products (Table 2).

Table 2. Existing Land Use. Eastern Visayas Region (In hectares) 
Land UseBiliranLeyteSo. LeyteSamarE. SamarN. SamarTotal%
A. Agricultural Areas272303320189067315490617099520056397638545.3
Vegetables 325123885188648 
Fruit Trees/Banana61517651043166791354253 
Sugarcane 19722140   19862 
Abaca 3912837845166953048247983 
B.  Forest Area5427594502627526355914309611151860932528.3
C.  Grasslands22235165555525621377671288723443554142625.1
D. Miscellaneous658142573970286841123284291491.4
Source: Bureau of Soils and Water Management.(1992)  

E.    Socio-Demographic Profile

1.    Population

The population of Eastern Visayas in 2007 totaled 3,912,936 and increased by 1.1% per annum (p.a.) over the period 2000-2007.  It increased by 1.5% p.a. in the 1990s and by 0.9% p.a. in the 1980s.  Of its provinces, Leyte is the most populous, accounting for 44.1% of its total in 2000.  Samar is the second most populous with 17.8% of its 2000 population while Eastern Samar is the third most populous with 10.5% of its population in the same year.     
Eastern Visayas is relatively less densely populated than the whole country, having a population density of 168 persons per square kilometer (km2) in 2000, 92 persons/km2 less than the country’s density then.  Of its provinces, Leyte is the most densely populated, followed by Biliran and Southern Leyte.  By far, the least densely populated of its provinces is Eastern Samar, whose population density in 2000 totaled 87 persons/km2.

2.    Income and Expenditure

The average family in Eastern Visayas has consistently earned and spent less than the national average.  In 2003, the region’s average annual family income was Php103,000, the fourth lowest in the country and 30.4% lower than the national average.  Its average annual family expenditure, on the other hand, was Php84,000, also fourth lowest nationwide and 32.3% lower than the national average.  Its average annual family disposable income then was Php19,000. This was the 7th highest in the country, thereby proving the thrift of the region’s people, and 20.8% lower than the national average.   

In 2006, the region’s average family income in a year increased substantially relative to other regions, amounting to Php125,731, the 7th lowest among the regions, although still lower than the national average by 27.2%.  Its annual average family expenditure also increased substantially, totaling Php104,070, the 6th lowest nationwide, and 29.3% lower than the national norm.  Its annual family disposable income, meanwhile, amounted to Php19,000, the 8th highest in the country.

3.    Poverty Incidence and Poverty Threshold

Eastern Visayas belongs to the lower half of the poorest regions in the country.  In 2006, it was the fifth poorest with 40.7% of its families and 48.5% of its population being poor.  Only the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Caraga, MIMAROPA, and Bicol, in order starting with the poorest, were poorer than it was.  Its situation was actually worse than in 2003 when it was ranked the seventh poorest, with 35.3% of its families and 43% of its population being considered poor.  In that year, it ranked better than the Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao, in addition to the four other regions it outranked in 2006.  In 2006, these two regions experienced dramatic improvements in its poverty incidence.

4.    Education

In school year 2004-2005, Eastern Visayas topped the whole country in the National Achievement Test (NAT) for Grade VI pupils and fourth year secondary students.  While the national average mean percentage score for the NAT for elementary pupils was 58.7, that of the region was 69.2. Meanwhile, the average mean percentage score achieved by the region for the NAT for secondary students was 58.6.  That of the country as a whole was 46.8.  In the same school year, the top Division for elementary and secondary schools in the whole Department of Education was Eastern Visayas. 1

F.    The Economy

 The Region’s Gross Domestic Product

Eastern Visayas has consistently been in the lower half of the regions in terms of Regional Gross Domestic Product (RGDP).  In 2008, at Php30 billion, it was the fourth lowest, accounting for merely 2.1% of the country’s total.  Moreover, over the period 2006-2008, its RGDP has grown at rates below the national average.  In 2007, while the country’s GDP grew by 7.1%, its RGDP grew at less than half the pace, at 3.1%.  This was the slowest pace among those of the regions.  In 2008, its RGDP fared better, growing by 3.6%, the 8th fastest among the regions.  However, the country’s GDP grew by 3.8%.

The three economic sectors, namely, Agriculture, Fishery, and Forestry; Industry; and Services contributed almost equally to the region’s RGDP.  In the years where data are available, that is, 2009, the services sector contributed the biggest share at 36.7%.  Meanwhile, the agriculture, fishery and forestry sector contributed 33.3% and the industrial sector accounted for 30% (Table 3).

Table 3. Gross Regional Domestic Product. Eastern Visayas (at constant 1985 prices)

INDUSTRYAmount (‘000)% to Total (2009)
 I. Agri., Fishery & Forestry9,355,9159,835,92010,317,51810,154,16133.3
 II. Industry8,719,8398,545,3398,733,6269,151,36730
III. Services10,017,85310,571,90810,888,63011,176,49736.7
Total GRDP28,093,60728,953,16729,939,77530,482,024100

Source: Gross RSET-2011.


Despite the economic growth rates that are below national average, the employment situation in Eastern Visayas has been better than the rest of the country.  During the period 2000-2003, the region’s employment rates hovered around 92% while that of the country was 90%.  The region’s unemployment rates, meantime, were in the upper 7% while that of the country averaged 10%.  Its visible underemployment rates, however, were substantially more than what was observed nationwide (Table 4).

Table 4. Employment Statistics. Eastern Visayas.
Labor Force (‘000)1,4961,6411,6681,74930,913
Employment Rate (%)92.29292.692.290
Unemployment Rate (%)7.887.47.810
Visible Underemployment rate (%)14.517.216.7nd11
Source: RPFP-Eastern Visayas. 2004.    

G.    The Agriculture and Fishery Sector
Eastern Visayas is predominantly an agricultural region.  More than half of its population directly and indirectly earn livelihood from agriculture.  About a third (32%) of its economy is derived from the sector.

Gross Value Added of Agriculture
The agriculture, fishery and forestry sector experienced robust growth during the period 2005 to 2007.  It produced a total of Php 8.8 billion in value of production in 2005 to Php 9.8 billion in 2007, an average annual rate of 10.69%.  Crops was the biggest sub-sector, contributing 46.6% of the agricultural gross value added (GVA) in 2007 while fisheries was the fastest growing with an average growth rate of 23.11% per annum during the period.  It was also the second largest sub-sector, accounting for 27.7% of the agricultural GVA. yearly.  It was followed by the livestock and poultry, and then the agricultural activities and services sub-sectors (Table 5).

Table 5. Gross Value Added, Agriculture and Fisheries, Eastern Visayas (at constant 1985 prices), 2005-2010, in ‘000

Sub-sector200520062007Ave. Growth Rate (%)
Livestock and Poultry2,100,4952,087,7192,090,802-0.46
Agri. Activities & Services415,004423,712435,0574.83

Agricultural Area

Agricultural areas in Eastern Visayas total 976,385 ha.  Of these areas, a great majority (98.4%) or 960,256 ha is planted to crops.  Fishponds are established in 1.1% while pasturelands account for the rest.

Of the croplands, 71.4% is planted to coconut.  Another 19.4% is planted to rice and 5% to abaca.  The rest of the lands is planted to other crops, primarily sugarcane, corn, and rootcrops.

Of the provinces in the region, Leyte has the largest croplands, its area planted to crops totaling 322,252 ha.  It is followed by Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Samar, whose croplands measure from 150,000 ha to 200,000 ha.  It is these same three provinces which have the most extensive coconut lands, with the former having around 200,000 ha planted to the crop while the latter three having coconut lands hovering around the 120,000 ha to 140,000 ha range.  A substantial part of the croplands of Samar (24,660 ha) is planted to rice, although Leyte has the most extensive ricelands, which measure 84,277 ha (Table 6).

Table 6. Existing Agricultural Land Use, Eastern Visayas, 2003 (in ha)
Land UseBiliranLeyteSo. LeyteSamarE. SamarN. SamarTotal%
Abaca 3,9128,3784,51669530,48247,9835
Sugarcane 19,722140   19,8622.07
Fruit Trees/Banana6151,7651,043166791354,2530.44
Vegetables 3251238851886480.07
Source: RSET 2004

  1Department of Education. 2005. Report Card of the Public School System (SY 2004-2005). unpublished.