Zubiri tells DA to act on rising fertilizer prices

Zubiri tells DA to act on rising fertilizer prices

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is calling on the
Department of Agriculture (DA) to take action amidst the skyrocketing
fertilizer prices in the country, which has put farmers on the back
foot as they struggle to balance rising production costs and low
farmgate prices.

“Ang dami pong lumalapit sa akin na farmers’ groups and cooperatives
lately, nanghihingi ng tulong dahil sa tuloy-tuloy na pagtaas ng
presyo ng fertilizers,” Zubiri said. “Ang baba na nga ng benta ng
produkto nila, tapos ang mahal pa ng fertilizer. And with no support
from the government, hindi na po talaga sila kikita.”

Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority Executive Director Wilfredo Roldan
has cited global demand as the primary reason for rising fertilizer
prices.

“Urea used to go for just around Php800 to Php900 per 50 kilograms,
pero ngayon nasa Php1500 to Php1800 na. That’s an astronomical jump,
especially in the middle of a pandemic,” Zubiri remarked.

“Hindi pa nga nakaka-recover ang mga magsasaka natin, lalo pa silang
malulugi sa presyo ng farm input. And of course, that will affect the
whole chain. It will put our farmers out of business, and it will
definitely set us back in our efforts to become more self-sufficient
in our production. Aasa na naman ba tayo sa imports?

“The best way to address this is for the DA to lead the efforts in
really developing our local fertilizer industry. How is it that we are
an agricultural country, and yet we’re a net importer of fertilizer?
We should make fertilizer production a homegrown industry, as an
essential part of our agricultural sector.”

“I remember when the government actually used to produce fertilizer
locally, through PhilPhos (Philppine Phospate Fertilizer Corporation),
before it was privatized in 2000. For a period of time, we were
actually producing more fertilizer than we were importing. We need to
look into that model again, and figure out how we can adapt it today,
to help our farmers have access to affordable farm input. And we’ll be
opening up more jobs too, if we can jumpstart our fertilizer industry
again.”

“But in the short term, we do need to import fertilizers for our
farmers,” Zubiri conceded. “And I hope the DA can do it on behalf of
our farmers. It will be cheaper, and maybe we can ask the National
Food Authority to then sell it at friendly prices to our farmers.
Better yet, let’s subsidize farm input, at least for time being, to
help cope with the current prices.

“In the long run, though, we really need to strengthen our own
fertilizer production. Because as long as we are reliant on imported
fertilizers, we are leaving our farmers at the mercy of world market
fluctuations.” (ai/mtvn)

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