Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he has asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to submit a comprehensive action plan to address the soaring prices of fertilizer, and to provide farmers with subsidies to mitigate its effects.
“A few days ago, I talked with Agriculture Sec. William Dar. I approved the DA’s budget for 2022, with a colatilla that the DA should submit to the Senate a plan on how to address the problem on high fertilizer prices, and what concrete steps they would take to lower the prices of fertilizer,” the senator said in a meeting with sugar industry leaders at Nature’s Village Resort in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, on Saturday, November 13.
Prices of urea were at P800 to 900 per bag four months ago and now they are at more than P2,000, which will drive up the costs of commodities and will have an inflationary effect on the economy, Zubiri also said at a press conference in Bacolod City.
Urea is a byproduct of fuel, and the prices of fuel are forecasted to rise from the current $80 per barrel to $100, he said.
“So we don’t see an end to the increase in the prices of fertilizer,” he said.
Zubiri said in his meeting with the sugar leaders they agreed to come up with short, medium and long term solutions to the high cost of fertilizer.
The short term solution is for government to provide farmers with fertilizer subsidies, he said.
The DA gives farmers a P1,000 voucher as fertilizer subsidy, but is asking for more funds to increase it and we are going to try our best to add to their budget, Zubiri said.
The medium term solution is to come up with an honest-to-goodness organic fertilizer program, he said.
“Negros still leads the country in organic farming and agriculture”, he pointed out.
The long term solution is for government to pursue public-private partnerships for the country to produce its own fertilizer, instead of importing, he added.
“The senator said he is committed to continue fighting for the sugar industry…I will always protect the sugar industry because it is the lifeblood of Negros Occidental and 19 other provinces,” he said.*