Bacolod City – The United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) issued a statement calling on the Department of Agriculture to subsidize the cost of fertilizers by immediately issuing a P1,000 voucher per bag of fertilizer for sugar farmers who have been greatly affected by the continuing rising cost of the commodity.
UNIFED President Manuel Lamata said cost of urea fertilizers have more than doubled in just months from the ₱ 800 to ₱ 900 per 50-kilogram bag to almost ₱ 1,900 per bag.
“This is unacceptable and we want the Department of Agriculture to act on this, otherwise our production will definitely go down again,” Lamata said.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri revealed on Saturday that the Department of Agriculture is asking for an increase in a budget for fertilizer subsidy, as it started to distribute a ₱ 1,000 voucher as fertilizer subsidy.
Lamata said the soaring prices of fertilizer needs immediate action especially since more than 80 percent of the sugar producers are small planters.
“How else can our small farmers survive when the price of fertilizers is equal or even more than the price of their produce.” he asked
This could have been prevented if the DA and the Sugar Regulatory Administration were on top of the situation and should have acted on this problem before it reached this situation, Lamata said.
“We have yet to hear their action plan on how to resolve this or at the very least find a balance that will not cripple our industry.” he added.
UNIFED also expressed support to the call of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri who earlier said that government must initiate programs to produce organic fertilizers and other proactive measures to ensure that our small farmers are protected.
The DA has been asked by Zubiri to submit a comprehensive plan of action to fertilizers problem in response to complaints of the sugarcane workers and farmers on soaring prices.
“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,” Lamata said. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star, photo courtesy of DAR-NegOcc)