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Farmers support local production of fertilizers

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
Farmers support local production of fertilizers
“We cannot always depend on imports, especially on food and other basic products. It is imperative that we walk on our own two legs,”Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas national chairperson Danilo Ramos said in a statement yesterday.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — A farmers’ group is supporting calls for reducing the country’s reliance on imported fertilizer by increasing local production amid skyrocketing global prices.

“We cannot always depend on imports, especially on food and other basic products. It is imperative that we walk on our own two legs,”Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas national chairperson Danilo Ramos said in a statement yesterday.

“This call for increasing local fertilizer production, especially organic, should be coupled with an actual budget, resources, and a strategic roadmap,”Ramos said.

The group’s call for more local production of fertilizer was prompted by a recent statement of Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) administrator Wilfredo Roldan, who urged farmers to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and strive for self-reliance.

“Roldan seems to have more sense than William Dar, whose solution to any agricultural problem is to import-import-import,” Ramos said, referring to Dar who earlier urged farmers to import their own fertilizers amid rising global prices.

In a press briefing last week, Roldan emphasized the need to reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers and the need to produce more locally as the country has a lot of sources of raw materials that can be used for organic fertilizers.

“It is an opportune time, for those who have resources and those inclined to agriculture, to look into investments towards self-reliance on production of local fertilizer,” Roldan said.

Latest data from the FPA showed that the average nationwide retail price of prilled UREA reached P2,098.91 per 50-kilo bag based on prices from Nov. 15 to 19.

This is almost double the P1,049 price in the same period last year.

The price of diammonium phosphate (DAP) also increased by 36 percent to P2,164.77.

The price of ammonium sulfate fertilizer was recorded at P1,051.68 per 50-kilo bag, 74 percent higher than the same period last year, while complete fertilizer prices also increased by 46 percent to P1,567.58 for a 50-kilo bag.

Ammonium phosphate fertilizer prices jumped by 45 percent to P1,438.36 per 50-kilo bag, while the price of muriate of potash (MOP) fertilizer also rose by 32 percent to P1,610.20 per 50-kilo bag.

The Fertilizer Industry Association of the Philippines (FIAP) earlier attributed the higher fertilizer prices in the global market to the increasing demand from countries such as India, Australia, and Brazil.

It also attributed the global fertilizer situation to the recent gas shortage in Europe, which resulted in a cut in domestic fertilizer production due to the hike in energy prices.

“The persistent rise of fertilizer prices amounts to an added cost of up to P7,378 per hectare for the production of palay (unhusked rice) and other input-intensive crops, which need three to seven bags of fertilizers. Add to this the consecutive rise in oil prices which occurred last planting season and it becomes clear that farmers, despite much sowing, will increasingly reap nothing but debt,” Ramos said.

Meanwhile, Ramos welcomed the Department of Agriculture’s commitment towards higher fertilizer subsidies.

“Cash subsidies for fertilizer would provide much-needed relief for small farmers. But if not paired with an aggressive program towards building local fertilizer production, these subsidies would just ultimately benefit importers and foreign agri-corporations,”Ramos said.

Under the DA’s Rice Resiliency Project two (RRP2), eligible farmers who plant inbred seeds will be able to avail of two bags of fertilizers per hectare or P2,000 in the form of vouchers, and those who plant hybrid will be given three bags per hectare or P3,000 worth of vouchers.

Given the rising prices, Cayanan said the subsidy now only covers half of the cost of fertilizers.

Dar also said the Philippines may utilize its government to government relations with China and other countries to address the increasing prices of fertilizers.

He said the government to government agreement could be similar to what the Embassy of Iran did when they expressed willingness to a mutual agricultural cooperation with the country, which includes exportation of fertilizers.

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