BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The call for the Departments of Agriculture, as well as Trade and Industry to issue price freeze on the skyrocketing cost of fertilizers that the United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) said has almost tripled in less than two years, continues to snowball.
UNIFED President Manuel Lamata said they have been appealing to the DTI and DA since last year to “implement a price cap on fertilizers or subsidize the cost but it seems our calls have been falling on deaf ears.”
Lamata said that cost of urea fertilizers per 50-kilogram bag, rose from P800-900 a year ago to P2,300-2,400 as of this time.
With the onset of the planting season, there will be many farmers who may not be able to afford fertilizers and this will affect production in the next crop year,” he added.
“Remember, the sugar industry is composed of 85 percent small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries and our worry is that, with the high price of fertilizers plus the high cost of fuel and other agricultural inputs, these small farmers may not be able to survive to see another crop year,” he added.
Former Sugar Regulatory Administration board member Dino Yulo laments that there has been no concrete action from the Departments of Agriculture, as well as Trade and Industry, on the requests of farmers for them to act on the skyrocketing prices of fertilizers.
Yulo said that the unabated increase in fertilizer cost despite their call for a freeze price increase is causing trouble for the sugar industry now that the milling season is already peaking and sugar planting has commenced in many areas.
Lamata also finds it ironic that there are complaints about the high price of sugar “when it cannot even compensate with the high cost of all inputs we need to continue cultivating our sugar fields.”
“The DA and DTI has to move and address this before it gets out of hand,” Lamata said, noting also a surge in oil prices which is a basic commodity in all aspects of sugar planting, from land preparation to milling.
He also criticized the inaction of the Sugar Regulatory Administration which should have addressed the issue before it reached this situation.
“Our government has always been reactive when it comes to industry problems. It is high time that we put competent people in government agencies that foresee these problems and can provide immediate solutions,” he added.*