DUE to the uncontrolled increases in the prices of fertilizers, the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) has reiterated its call for the government to impose a price cap or import fertilizer directly and sell them at a lower cost to the farmers.

NFSP President Enrique D. Rojas said that in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Agriculture (DA) could perhaps impose a price cap or Suggested Retail Price for fertilizers.

Rojas said the DA can also propose the direct government importation of fertilizers to be sold at break-even or subsidized prices so that farmers can avail of fertilizers at a lower cost.

On November 11, the NSFP followed up their letter which they sent on October 25 with Agriculture Secretary William Dar regarding the matter.

Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Sen. Cynthia Villar, House Agriculture Committee Chair Rep. Wilfrido Mark Envarga, and Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri have also furnished a copy of the letter.

Rojas said that he will personally deliver this letter and discuss this matter with Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri during our meeting this Saturday, November 13.

The price of Urea (46-0-0), the most widely-used fertilizer in farming, ranged from P800 to P900 per 50-kilo bag in 2020. It doubled to P1,600 per bag last July, skyrocketed to P2,200 per bag last October, and still surged to P2,250 per bag this week.

Potash (0-0-60) prices increased from P910 per bag last April to more than P1,600 per bag last October and to P1,800 this week, while the price of 18-46-0 also jumped from P1,100 per bag last April to a whopping P2,220 per bag last October and to P2,650 this week. All kinds of fertilizers have also doubled in price, compared to last year’s prices.

“The bulk of the proceeds from our sugar sales is eaten up by the high cost of inputs, particularly fertilizer and fuel. We appeal to the government to institute measures to curb the unconscionable increases in fertilizer and fuel prices,” Rojas added.

He reiterated his proposal for direct government importation of fertilizers to be sold at break-even or subsidized prices so that farmers can avail of fertilizers at a lower cost.

Most farmers believe that the fertilizer business in the country is being controlled by a cartel that dictates fertilizer prices. It was observed that, when there is the availability of cheaper fertilizer from direct importation by a non-government group, the fertilizer cartel immediately lowers their prices and kills the importation.

“Based on NFSP’s experience in 2005-2006, our Federation imported directly, through the NFSP-Multi-Purpose Cooperative, a shipload of Urea for our members. From complying with government permits and regulations, securing financing up to finding a credible supplier, we had to pass through the eye of the needle to finally land the about 144,000 tons of Urea at Bredco Port here in Bacolod City,” Rojas said.

NFSP decided to import directly after Urea prices surged from P 850.00 per bag to more than P1,100.00 per bag sometime in 2004-2005. When the shipment landed, NFSP sold it to its members at only P 820.00 per bag, compared to the prevailing price of more than P1,100.00 per bag at that time.

When NFSP’s cheaper Urea arrived, the fertilizer traders offered their Urea at the lowered price of P 820.00 per bag on 30-days credit terms, compared to NFSP’s same price on a cash-and-carry basis.

That means, the NFSP’s fertilizer languished in its rented warehouses, incurring substantial storage fees to NFSP.

“If the private sector will again initiate the importation, the same thing will happen to sabotage the private initiative. It is only the government, spearheaded by the DA, which has the power to intervene, thru direct government importation, to break the stranglehold of the cartel on exorbitant fertilizer prices,” Rojas stressed.

He said that NFSP is appealing not only for the sugarcane farmers but also for all rice and corn farmers, who have also been suffering from high fertilizers prices for a long time. He further emphasized that government intervention in controlling the increases in fertilizer and fuel prices will be highly appreciated by the hundreds of thousands of small farmers in the country. (PR)