Farmer groups seek fertilizer subsidy as prices rise
The sharp increase in fertilizer prices has prompted several farmer groups to renew their call on the Department of Agriculture (DA) for a onetime production subsidy of P15,000 for small-scale farmers who each own less than three hectares.
In a statement, the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, Bantay Bigas and Anakpawis Partylist noted that prices of urea—the most basic type of fertilizer used in planting rice—surged by between 49 and 53 percent this month in the major rice-producing provinces of Nueva Ecija and Isabela against quotations between December last year and April this year.
From an average of P850 per bag, fertilizer prices rose to an average of P1,300 per bag as the series of fuel price hikes made it more expensive to transport farm inputs to the rural areas.
The data were lifted from a provincial radio station in Nueva Ecija and was affirmed by research conducted by Amihan and Bantay Bigas. The Philippine Statistics Authority, however, has not updated its own report on fertilizers since last year.
Groups said a typical rice farmer in Nueva Ecija spent P74,000 to plant palay in a hectare of land during the previous dry season. This resulted in a net income of P27,174 for the crop cycle based on P17 a kilogram for 120 sacks of palay, which is the production from a one-hectare riceland.
The additional fertilizer costs, however, will trim a farmer’s profit to just P198 from P302 a day, which could go even lower with the expected decline in palay prices during the lean months of September and October.
“The DA, through the leadership of Agriculture Secretary William Dar, is putting emphasis on market-oriented policies instead of addressing the immediate need for land and production subsidy of our food security front-liners,” the group said. “The current state of our rice farmers is proof that Duterte’s five-year rule is of gross neglect and failure.”
Since last year, farmers, fishers and livestock raisers have been asking the government for additional aid.
In response, the Development Bank of the Philippines disbursed P1.49 billion to be given to rice farmers who each till land ranging between 500 square meters and two ha.
About 297,000 farmers received a cash aid of P5,000 each, while members of other subsectors were referred to government loan programs that do not require collateral and are interest-free.
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