JANUARY 13, 2010 (STAR) (Xinhua) - The Department of Agriculture predicted that the country's farm production would grow at a range of 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent in 2009.

Despite the extensive damage caused by three devastating typhoons in the latter part of 2009, farm output could post a positive growth, said Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap on Tuesday.

While 2009 ended almost two weeks ago, the Department of Agriculture chief said his department is still in the process of consolidating the figures on farm output. "We will be ready with it in two weeks."

At the start of 2009, the department had targeted a 3 percent growth for farm output. However, the extensive destruction caused by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, and Santi prompted the department to downscale its growth expectations for 2009.

The three typhoons damaged around 1.3 million metric tons (MMT) of palay or 850,000 metric tons of rice in milled terms. Based on the January to September farm growth figures, palay output alone accounted for 15 percent of total farm production.

Earlier, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (Bas), an attached agency of the DA, said that paddy rice output in the fourth quarter of 2009 may have gone down by 11.32 percent.

In 2008, the output of the country's farm sector increased by 3. 92 percent mainly on the back of the good performance of the crops subsector and the fisheries subsector.

Hanjin unveils first oil tanker built in RP By Ric Sapnu (The Philippine Star) Updated January 13, 2010 12:00 AM

[PHOTO AT LEFT - SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga (right), a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy, briefs SBMA administrator Armand Arreza on instrument panels installed at the bridge of the M/T Leyla K, a 114,000-ton oil tanker built by Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp.-Philippines, during the vessel’s naming ceremony last Friday. RIC SAPNU]

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT , Philippines – Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp.-Philippines unveiled last Friday the first and biggest crude oil tanker built in the country during a naming ceremony at its compound at the Redondo Peninsula here.

The 114,000-deadweight ton tanker was named M/T Leyla K by its Turkish owner, the Kaptanoglu Shipping Line, said Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Feliciano Salonga.

Leyla K has a length of 241.3 meters and breadth of 44 meters. The first steel for the tanker was cut in November 2008, while its keel was laid in May 2009. The ship was launched last October.

Salonga witnessed the naming ceremony along with SBMA administrator Armand Arreza and Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso.

The naming ceremony was also attended by HHIC-Philippines president Seung Chil Lee, representatives of the ship classification society Lloyd Register, and executives of Kaptanoglu Shipping Line led by Engin Kaptanoglu, who ordered the tanker from Hanjin.

Salonga said the production of the first oil tanker marks a new era for the Subic Bay Freeport, which he added is now in the big league of shipbuilding.

“I won’t be surprised if (Hanjin) will start constructing several oil tankers at the same time... It won’t be long before Filipino shipbuilders will be famous in this industry,” he added.

The $1.7-billion Hanjin shipyard here, which currently employs 17,000 workers, is now the world’s fourth largest shipbuilding facility.

As of end-2009, Salonga said Hanjin had produced eight container and bulk vessels.

By 2012, Hanjin is due to deliver 36 more vessels to customers worldwide.

Hanjin started constructing its Subic shipyard in February 2006 and delivered its first product in July 2008 – the 4,300-TEU container ship “Argolikos,” which was delivered to the Greek shipping company Dioryx.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved