A LEGISLATOR has introduced a bill aimed at implementing a national fertilizer and pesticide program for skilled farmers amid soaring farm input prices.
AGRI MP Wilbert Lee said House Bill (HB) 3528, or the National Fertilizer Subsidy Act, aims to institutionalize a fertilizer and pesticide subsidy program.
“In our quest for true food security and self-sufficiency, we must recognize that fertilizers and pesticides play an important role in increasing the yield and production of our crops. As prices for these agricultural inputs continue to rise, farmers are being forced to purchase less fertilizer than recommended, which could result in much lower production,” Lee said.
He added that the unabated rise in farm input prices, particularly fertilizers, has almost tripled in just 18 months, based on monitoring by the AGRI party list.
Lee said the price of urea went from an estimate of 900 to 950 pests per bag in 2021 to 2,240 to 2,920 pests in February 2022.
He said this would mean adding about 1,340 to 1,970 pesetas per sack to an average of six to eight sacks per hectare used by rice farmers.
“This alarming situation will undoubtedly paralyze our farmers; all our efforts to increase productivity will be in vain if we don’t protect our small farmers from this ‘fertilizer crisis’,” Lee added.
Under the proposed measure, the Ministry of Agriculture implements the Skilled Farmer Scheme.
“Through this legislation, we are reassuring our agricultural sector that we are responsive and guarantee that in high price scenarios for these agricultural inputs, subsidies are available as we separately push to sustainably increase its local manufacturing and production,” Lee added.
Under HB 3528, the subsidies will be in the form of actual fertilizer bags or subsidy vouchers, depending on prevailing market prices and the geographic and logistical challenges of the regions.
“This legislative action is in line with President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.’s goal of making fertilizers more affordable for farmers and increasing their productivity,” he said.