More funds needed to boost rice output

In an interview with dzBB on Saturday, Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin Adriano said the government needs to invest from P30 billion to P40 billion for the rice sector alone to counter the impact of what he called “a food catastrophe,” which is caused by global food supply chain disruption triggered by the Ukraine-Russia war.
STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The government will need as much as P40 billion to fund various initiatives to reverse the impact of the coming food crisis on the country’s rice sector, an official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

In an interview with dzBB on Saturday, Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin Adriano said the government needs to invest from P30 billion to P40 billion for the rice sector alone to counter the impact of what he called “a food catastrophe,” which is caused by global food supply chain disruption triggered by the Ukraine-Russia war.

Adriano said the budget would be used not only for the distribution of fertilizer subsidies for rice farmers, but would also be used to buy palay or unhusked rice from farmers.

“When the government buys, it can sell it at a lower price to consumers,” Adriano said.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar explained earlier that the food crisis would be caused by three factors, such as the disruption in the global food supply chain, the greatly reduced productivity of Ukraine and Russia, as well as reduced agricultural productivity in the rest of the world due to the unavailability and high cost of inputs.

He emphasized the need to provide additional fertilizer subsidies to prevent an annual decline in palay production.

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Dar said an additional P6 billion fertilizer subsidy budget for the wet planting season was earlier approved by President Duterte as part of the Plant Plant Plant 2.

“Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez is now looking at the funding source as he supports this additional budget for fertilizer subsidy. He promised to have it very soon,” Dar said last week.

To cushion the impact of the global challenges on the country’s food security, the DA earlier implemented Plant Plant Plant with a P24 billion budget, of which P20 billion has been allocated for fertilizers.

While P6 billion of the fertilizer subsidy budget would be allocated for the wet season, Dar said the amount to be allocated for the dry season would depend on the next administration.

Dar cited the need for more fertilizer subsidies to prevent a decline in palay production.

“If we are not able to subsidize more, the rice farmers today will see a decline of about 1.1 million metric tons (MT) of palay this year,” Dar said.

Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that palay production declined to 4.5 million MT from 4.63 million MT due to rising prices of fertilizer.

Fertilizer prices in the international market have been rising since last year mainly due to larger demand from countries, as well as higher freight cost.

Latest data from the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority showed that the average retail price of prilled urea reached P2,982.97 per 50-kilo bag from May 9 to 13. This is more than double the P1,156.64 per 50-kilo bag price in the same period last year.

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