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.
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 P800 to P900 per 50 kilograms, but now it is at P1,500 to P1,800. That’s an astronomical jump, especially in the middle of a pandemic,” Zubiri, who has roots in Negros Occidental, said Monday, October 18.
“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”, he said.
“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”, he added.
“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,” he said.
“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”, Zubiri said.*