Zubiri to DA: Provide action plan on fertilizer prices before budget deliberations
MANILA, Philippines — At the Senate hearing for the 2022 budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri laid down a requirement to the approval of the DA’s budget, asking for a concrete plan in connection with 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 fertilizer now sells for around P1500 to P1900, from just P800 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, napakamahal 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?”
(We talked to the farmers and their problem really is the high prices of fertilizer. What is the DA doing to bring down the prices? What am I going to tell the farmers to help them?)
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 the 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.”
(Maybe the DA should coordinate with the Department of Trade and Industry to control the prices. Because prices are different from various stores and various provinces.)
“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.”
(We should also help our organic fertilizer program.)
“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 2000. “Ang dami nating materials for organic fertilizers, pero wala tayong programa. We need more progressive and proactive measures, hindi lang tayo reactive.”
(Before we have locally produced fertilizers from PhilPos. We have a lot of materials for organic fertilizers but there is no program.)
“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.”
(Let’s rejuvenate the local fertilizer industry. Let’s make incentive packages and local production of fertilizer.)
“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.”
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