Due to the uncontrolled increases in fertilizer prices, the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) called on government to impose a price cap or import fertilizer directly and sell them at lower cost to the farmers.
“In coordination with Department of Trade and Industry, perhaps the DA can impose a price cap or Suggested Retail Price for fertilizers. Or 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,” said NFSP President Enrique D. Rojas in his follow-up letter sent Wednesday to Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Sen. Cynthia Villar, House Agriculture Committee Chair Rep. Wilfrido Mark Envarga and Sen. Migz Zubiri were furnished a copy of the said letter.
NFSP initially sent a letter to Sec. Dar last October 25. Since fertilizer prices kept on increasing, the federation decided to send a follow-up letter last November 11.
“I will personally deliver this letter and discuss this matter with Sen. Migz Zubiri during our meeting this Saturday (November 13),” Rojas added.
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 whooping P2,220 per bag last October and to P2,650 this week. All kinds of fertilizers have also doubled in prices, 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 who dictates fertilizer prices. It was observed that when there is 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, thru 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 narrated.
NFSP decided to import directly after Urea prices surged from PhP 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 PhP 820.00 per bag, compared to the prevailing price of more than PhP 1,100.00 per bag at that time.
When NFSP’s cheaper Urea arrived, the fertilizer traders offered their Urea at the lowered price of PhP 820.00 per bag on 30-days credit terms, compared to NFSP’s same price at cash-and-carry basis. Thus, 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.*