Sugar producers warned of a “disaster” in agricultural productivity following a more than 100 percent increase in the prices of fertilizer, adding this may also affect the food security program of the government.
Raymond Montinola, president of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Association Inc., said that the P845 per bag of fertilizer in October last year is now P2,005 per bag.
“The fuel cost last year was only P30 per liter, now it’s P50 per liter, with labor cost also expensive nowadays,” Montinola also said.
While CONFED thanked Agriculture Secretary William Dar for a swift action to their woes, Montinola noted that the price of sugar remains the same, while the price of urea fertilizer and related farming costs continue to skyrocket to unprecedented levels.
Dar facilitated a meeting among CONFED, the Sugar Regulatory Administration, Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, and the Planters Products Inc. as early as July in a bid to map out a quick action plan and link stakeholders with a major fertilizer importer-trader, who could give a reasonable price.
“It is worth looking into the disaster to our agricultural productivity should our farmers lose the ability to apply proper fertilization. Production of primary crops will drop resulting in our inability to provide food security for our nation,” Montinola said.
He stressed that the agricultural sector cannot rely on importation, as prices will always be an issue, all the more the availability of supply.
He noted that some urea-producing countries are now withholding their stocks for use by their own farmers. “Therefore, the concern in importation lies not only on pricing but in supply,” Montinola added.
Should fertilizer, such as urea, continue to sell at more than P1,300 per bag, Montinola said the farmers cannot help but call on the government to urge the DA, the SRA, FPA, and the Department of Trade and Industry to explore concrete measures to secure an adequate supply of various fertilizer grades and ensure that farmers can avail of them at fair prices, he said.
Such measures may include government-to-government negotiations, financing, subsidies, and enforcement of the Price Act of 1992, or Republic Act No. 7551, as there might be cases of profiteering or other unscrupulous practices by fertilizer distributors, Montinola added.
He also said that CONFED is studying the viability of direct importation of fertilizer, through its registered cooperatives, as what had been done previously in the hope of acquiring affordable fertilizer.
Low-cost financing, or the availment of funds from the Sugar Industry Development Act appropriation, may be one way of facilitating the same, with assistance from concerned government agencies, the CONFED president said. — GB