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Higher fertilizer prices add to farmers’ woes

The high prices of fertilizers in June had forced farmers to scrimp on implements and make do with lower yields as palay prices continued to fall, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

Based on the agency’s monthly monitoring report, prices of widely used fertilizers declined from month-ago levels by less than 1 percent. However, prices were still higher compared to the levels in the same period last year.

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On the average, urea posted the highest increase at P1,139.78 a sack, up 12.9 percent from last year.

Meanwhile, a sack of “complete” fertilizer, a mix of three main plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash), was sold at an average of P1,150.18, up 3.7 percent from year-ago level.

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Prices of ammosul, (ammonium sulfate fertilizer) and ammophos (a highly concentrated fertilizer composed of nitrogen and phosphor), rose by 6.8 percent and 7.6 percent from year-ago levels, respectively, to P633.26 and P1,000.75 a sack.

Notable increases in fertilizer prices were especially noted in the provinces of Mindanao due to transport costs. Significant upticks in prices were reflected in rice-producing regions such as Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley.

Federation of Free Farmers national manager Raul Montemayor said in an interview with the Inquirer that with the slump in palay prices, farmers were forced to use less implements to minimize losses.

However, doing so results in lower yields.

“Most of our farmers do not have any choice but to continue planting, so they try to save on inputs. Usually, prices pick up during lean months but it’s different now with the tariffication,” he said.

Since the call on liberalization, the farm-gate price of palay has reached its lowest in almost three years at P17.85 a kilo. In the provinces of Davao and Surigao, rates have plummeted to as low as P14 and P15 a kilo, respectively.

Montemayor said that if the downward trend would continue in the next two planting seasons, it was not far-fetched for farmers to sell their lands.

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“With the current prices they are really losing, and the fastest way to earn is by selling,” he said.

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TAGS: Fertilizer prices, palay prices, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)
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