Amid pressing complaints that fertilizer prices are “no longer affordable” to ordinary farmers, the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) has urged farmers in Central Luzon to use natural compost instead of inorganic commercial fertilizers.
“To escape the price of commercial fertilizers, our farmers must start using indigenous materials to save on costs on fertilizer,” said FPA regional officer Antonio Cruz.
The official’s declaration came after the Pampanga Agricultural and Fisheries Council and other farmer organizations in the region aired their complaints about the sudden surge in the prices of fertilizer, which they claimed is “overpriced”.
But Cruz said there is no overpricing in the current price of fertilizer. “The price of fertilizer is directly dependent on crude oil prices in the world market. Raise the prices of oil if there is an additional price on fertilizer,” he said.
He explained that fertilizer supply for the country is directly derived from the international supply.
To address the inability of some farmers to meet with the current market prices, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap ordered the release of fertilizer discount coupons to farmers. And while farmers claim that the number of coupons is not enough, Cruz said they have distributed “more than enough coupons.”
Records of the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed that 452,939 coupons were distributed in Central Luzon. Out of this total number, 233,295 have been utilized as of August 22 this year.
In Pampanga, 95,000 coupons have been distributed to various municipalities but only 56,243 coupons landed to the hands of farmers and only 18,519 coupons were actually utilized.
“We urge our municipalities and the Provincial Government to help our farmers and distribute the needed coupons. The future of our rice stability depends on how our farmers can produce much rice,” Cruz said.
In the current system, farmers are entitled to six coupons from the DA, municipalities or component cities, and the Provincial Government. Each coupon is worth P250 but the average price of a sack of inorganic fertilizer is around P2,000, in which case farmers still need to shoulder half of the original price. This is again aggravated by the increase in oil prices that translates to the increase in the prices of fertilizer.
Cruz said the best way to solve the problem on fertilizer price is to use indigenous materials like rice straw, grass leaves and waste food materials in creating compost fertilizer. He said while most farmers insist in using commercial and chemically mixed fertilizer, organic fertilizer reaps more benefits on the side of the farmers.
The Clean Air Acts bans the open air burning of garbage, including farm wastes.
Cruz said that composting will help keep the air clean, a well-maintained environment and save money for farmers who buy commercial fertilizer.
“Natural fertilizer is bereft of chemical components that damage the soil and the health. Although commercial fertilizer is more efficient, with the right technology and know-how we can also replicate the effects of commercial fertilizer,” Cruz said.
The FPA is conducting seminars that would give farmers sufficient knowledge to make their own composts.
However, Cruz said the major problem they see in introducing natural fertilizer use is the “misconception” among farmers that commercial fertilizer is much better and yields more in terms of production.
Sun.Star received information that some farmers unscrupulously convert the fertilizer discount coupons to lesser amount at some fertilizer outlets. Such practice deprives farmers of the benefits the government intends to give them through the coupons.