Zubiri to DA: Give Senate action plan on fertilizer prices beforebudget approval

Zubiri to DA: Give Senate action plan on fertilizer prices before
budget approval

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri laid down a colatilla to
the approval of the budget of the Department of Agriculture requiring
a concrete plan on the skyrocketing prices of fertilizers before their
budget can be taken up in plenary.

This is following an earlier statement Zubiri issued, where he urged
the DA to act on the fertilizer problem, citing how urea now sells for
around Php1500 to Php1900, from just Php800 to P900 per 50 kilograms
some months ago.

Virtually joining the hearing from the province of Isabela—a stop in
Zubiri’s visit to North Luzon provinces affected by Typhoon Maring—he
relayed concerns from farmers regarding the unabated increase of
inorganic fertilizer prices over the past few months.

“Kausap namin ang mga magsasaka, at ang problema talaga nila,
napakahamal ng abono,” he said. “Ano ba ang ginagawang hakbang ng DA
para maibaba ang presyo ng abono? Ano pong sasabihin ko sa mga
magsasaka natin para matulungan sila?” he said.

DA Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan explained how multiple factors have
led to the upsurge in pricing, citing increased demand from other
countries and rising logistical costs caused by the pandemic.

He assured that the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) is
monitoring local prices to watch out for outliers who may be taking
advantage of the global situation. Additionally, the DA is handing out
discount vouchers to farmers, to help offset their fertilizer costs.

“Dapat rin siguro makipag-ugnayan na ang DA sa DTI, para ma-control
ang presyo,” Zubiri said. “Kasi iba-iba daw ang presyo sa iba’t ibang
stores sa iba’t ibang probinsiya.”

“At tulungan rin natin yung organic fertilizer program,” he added, in
support of Committee on Agriculture Sen. Cynthia Villar’s assertion
that the DA must distribute composting machines to farmers across the
country, to encourage local production of organic fertilizers. “In
Bukidnon we do that, but these are private endeavors. Dapat may
programa ang gobyerno.”

“Dati meron tayong locally produced fertilizers sa PhilPhos,” he said.

The Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corporation was a government-owned
company producing fertilizers locally, before its privatization in
“Ang dami nating materials for organic fertilizers, pero wala tayong
programa. We need more progressive and proactive measures, hindi lang
tayo reactive,” he said.

“Buhayin natin ang local fertilizer industry. Gawan natin ng incentive
packages ang local production of fertilizer. Maybe we can ask the FPA
what their recommendation is para buhayin natin ang local production.
I am an agriculturist, but we need assistance from our departments on
which direction we will take,” Zubiri said.

“My suggestion is we approve the budget of the DA at the committee
level with the colatilla that you give us an action plan kung ano pong
mga hakbang ang gagawin ninyo para matulungan ang ating mga magsasaka
na magkaroon ng affordable—both inorganic and organic—fertilizer, bago
namin ma-take up ang budget ninyo sa plenaryo,” he ended. (ai/mtvn)

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