Sugar producers air concern over sharp rise in fertilizer cost

A GROUP of sugar producers have expressed concern over the sharp increase in the price of fertilizer, particularly Urea, which they said may result in low farmers' productivity and affect the government’s food security program.

Confederation of Sugar Producers Association Inc. (Confed) president Raymond Montinola, in a statement Tuesday, October 26, said they wrote Agriculture Secretary William Dar to thank him of his agency's swift action to their woes but noted the continued rise in the price of fertilizer.

Urea, for instance, is currently pegged at P2,005 per 50-kilo bag.

Montinola said they told Dar that the federation is appreciative of the assistance extended by the DA, especially in facilitating a meeting with the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) and the Planters Products Inc. as early as July this year in the bid to have a quick action plan and link them with a major fertilizer importer-trader that could give a reasonable price.

He lamented, though, that while the price of Urea and related farming costs continue to skyrocket to unprecedented levels, sugar prices remain the same.

Montinola cited that the price of fertilizer from October 2020 to date has more than doubled, from only P845 per bag to P2,005 per bag.

"The fuel cost last year was only P30 per liter, now it's P50 per liter. Labor cost is also expensive nowadays," the Confed official said, adding that “it is worth looking into at the disaster to our agricultural productivity should our farmers lose the ability to apply proper fertilization.”

Montinola added that production of primary crops will drop resulting in the inability to provide food security for the nation.

The agricultural sector, he said, cannot rely on importation as prices will always be an issue and all the more the availability of supply.

Montinola also 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 as well," Montinola said.

Should fertilizers such as Urea continue to sell at more than P1,300 per bag, the farmers cannot help but call on government to urge the DA, the SRA, FPA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to explore concrete measures to secure adequate supply of various fertilizer grades and ensure that farmers can avail of them at fair prices, he stressed.

For Confed, such measures may include government-to-government negotiations, financing, subsidies and enforcement of the Price Act of 1992 or Republic Act 7551 as there might be cases of profiteering or other unscrupulous practices by fertilizer distributors.

The group, for its part, is also studying the viability of direct importation of fertilizers through its registered cooperatives, as it has done previously, in the hope of acquiring affordable fertilizers.

“Low-cost financing, or availment of funds from the Sugar Industry Development Act appropriation, may be one way of facilitating the same, with assistance from concerned government agencies,” its president said.


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