DA allots P4 billion fertilizer subsidy for farmers amid soaring prices

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2022 01:38 PM

 Ilocos countryside in the Ilocos region on February 16, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Ilocos countryside in the Ilocos region on February 16, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has allotted some P4 billion worth of fertilizer subsidy for farmers amid its soaring prices compounded by the rising fuel cost, an official said on Thursday. 

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes said the subsidy would be available through vouchers. It was not immediately clear how many farmers would benefit from this. 

"Yan po ngayon ang pinakaproblema, ang presyo ng abono, fertilizers. Ito ay by-product ng oil industry. Kaya karamihan ang fertilizer inaangkat natin sa oil producing countries," Reyes explained in a public briefing.

(That's our problem now, the high prices of fertilizers. This is the by-product of the oil industry. That is why many of our fertilizers are imported from oil-producing companies.)

"Tumaas, nagdoble, nagtriple [ang presyo]. Namimigay na rin ang DA niyan, may P4 billion for that... 'Yan ang ina-address," he added. 

(Its prices already went up double or triple. The DA will distribute... the allotted P4 billion to address the problem.)

To conserve organic and inorganic fertilizers, he said, the agency implemented the large-scale use of biostimulants to boost crop quality. 

"Para pandagdag... gumanda pa rin ang ani kahit kalahati na ng inorganic ang na-apply, dinadagdag naman ang biostimulants at biofertilizers. 'Yan ang tulong through our regional field offices," he said.

(To improve the crop's quality even if we only apply half of the inorganic fertilizer, we added biostimulants and biodertilizers. That's the help given by our regional field offices.) 

Aside from this, Reyes said the DA is already distributing the fuel discount vouchers for farmers and fisherfolk. Around 158,000 will benefit from this, each of whom would get P3,000. 

Authorities have already approved another P600 million subsidy for the next tranche, he said. 

The Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) earlier this month bared that fertilizer prices went up amid strong demand from India and other countries. China's ban on fertilizer exports also added to the problem. 

FPA Director Wilfredo Roldan, in a TeleRadyo interview, said the agriculture department appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to increase the subsidy to P12 billion. 

The Philippines is seeking supplies from Indonesia, Malaysia and Iran to cushion the impact. So far, only Iran had a firm offer, he said. 
Western sanctions on Russia, a major exporter of potash, ammonia, urea and other soil nutrients, have disrupted shipments of those key inputs around the globe. Fertilizer is key to keeping corn, soy, rice and wheat yields high.

Global fertilizer prices were already high prior to Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, as record natural gas and coal prices forced some fertilizer makers to cut output in that energy-hungry sector.

— With a report from Reuters

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