By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson
The feed industry said that government policy is currently biased towards imports of agricultural products rather than raw materials used by agricultural input manufacturers, which puts Filipino producers at a disadvantage compared to foreign products.
“The government should guarantee easier imports of raw materials than finished products. It is currently easier to import uncooked fish than the raw materials needed to produce fish feed,” Feedmix Specialist II, Inc. Vice President Norberto O. Chingcuanco said in a Viber message. .
“People in our government tend to say that our national industry is not competitive. It may be our government that is not competitive with other governments,” he added.
Chingcuaco added that the government should help Philippine industry develop fertilizers made from waste materials instead of paying for imported fertilizers.
“Public funds should be spent on national development and not to support imports. The best way (is) to turn agricultural or food processing waste into fertilizer, which will be a win for our environment and our farmers,” he said.
The Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA) said the high fertilizer prices are due to high demand, high shipping costs as well as the lack of a domestic fertilizer industry to compete with the foreign products.
“We are facing a supply problem. With the country’s dependence on imported fertilizers, the current global demand greatly affects the entry of fertilizer imports into our country. This has resulted in a limited local supply of fertilizer which has influenced the escalation of local prices,” FPA Regional Manager Leonardo A. Bangad said in a statement.
“The cost of transportation is high and fertilizer-producing countries (prioritize) their constituents in domestic agriculture. We are 93% dependent on imported fertilizer, 46% of which comes from China,” he said. “The problem now is that China has stopped exporting, because it has to take care of its (own) farmers more, because it has to feed its people. The rest of the imports come from Qatar, Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Russia.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it was in bilateral discussions with fertilizer manufacturers in several countries to supply the most widely used grades of fertilizer.
“The department will also promote a balanced fertilization strategy and the intensified use of the Rice Crop Management Advisory Service (RCMAS), a digital agriculture support tool for farmers,” Dar said.
“We will also build the capacity of Federations of Cooperatives and Farmers’ Associations (FCAs) so that they can directly import fertilizers,” he added.
The national chairman of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, Carlo E. Cua, who is also the governor of Quirino province, said the government should consider improving fertilizer production in the provinces.
“Maybe it’s time for a long-term program, to plant the seeds of a collaboration on fertilizer production with the DA as the lead agency with state universities and colleges and LGUs. provinces,” Cua said.
In partnership with the Bureau of Soil and Water Management, the DA also said it plans to set up 1,000 composting facilities worth 950 million pesos across the country.