Bacolod City – The Confederation of Sugarcane Planters’ Association (CONFED) issued a warning that food security is now being threatened by importation and soaring prices of fertilizers, that hurt farmers.
“Farmers need help from government to address soaring costs of production!” CONFED national president Raymond Montinola said.
Montinola, who presided over the board meeting recently of CONFED, said that the cost of Urea and other fertilizers have gone beyond affordable levels, especially for the small farmers.
With urea at P2,000 per bag, our (rice farmers and sugarcane growers) will most likely reduce their inputs, leading to sudden drops in production, he said.
Montinola also expressed apprehension that the recent development would constitute a serious threat to the country’s quest for food security, and will again push government to resort to massive food importations.
“Unmitigated and untimely food imports have proven time and again to be ruinous to our farmers,” Montinola claimed.
“Food imports are okay when absolutely necessary, but experience tells us that this always hurts the Filipino farmer,” Montinola opined.
“We appeal to government,” he added, “to look for real solutions to food security other than just imports. We will do our share in finding appropriate alternatives, but we want to see government working with us, not against us.
“CONFED calls on government to find ways to provide Filipinos with available, affordable and safe food that is locally produced,” Montinola said, emphasizing that the best way is to make Filipino farmers competitive, efficient and productive.
The CONFED board had earlier discussed concerns over rapidly rising costs of sugarcane production on top of other challenges confronting the industry, which are currently being addressed by a technical group reviewing the prescriptions and recommendations of the Sugar Road Map.
During the meeting, the group also discussed government’s announced plan to institute a “sugar import quota”, a proposal apparently pushed by industrial users for government to allow importation of their refined sugar requirements.
“Imported sugar may be cheaper now,” Montinola explained, “but government must be aware that these imports, first of all, are subsidized and do not reflect real production costs.”
The CONFED President warned against over-dependence on subsidized imports that would hurt local farmers. “It’s good while subsidized food commodities are still available, but what if they are no longer available or cheap?” he asked, pointing out the possibility that “we may no longer have local farmers who can produce our own food if we kill them with cheap subsidized imports!”
Montinola reiterates CONFED s position on sugar imports that remains consistent with their previous stand on the issue.
“We remain firm in our stand that sugar imports must be done in a calibrated and timely manner,” Montinola said, “based on hard data covering validated supply and demand projections. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star, photo courtesy of The Daily Guardian)