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AGRI PARTY-LIST: EXPAND FERTILIZER, PESTICIDES AID

Heeding the call of farmers to come up with solutions to ease their burden amid the continuing increase in the price of farm inputs, AGRI-Party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee filed a measure to institutionalize a fertilizer and pesticides subsidy program.

Under House Bill No. 3528 or the National Fertilizer Subsidy Act, the Department of Agriculture (DA) shall implement a National Fertilizer and Pesticide Subsidy Program which shall benefit qualified farmers.

Reports revealed that the price of urea increased from an estimate of P900 to P950 per bag in 2021 to P2,240 to P2,920 in February 2022. This would also mean that around P1,340 to P1,970 per bag will be added in an average of six to eight bags per hectare used by rice farmers.

“In our pursuit to attain genuine food security and self-sufficiency, we need to acknowledge that fertilizers and pesticides play significant roles in boosting our crops’ yield and production. As the prices of these crop inputs continue to increase, farmers are forced to purchase a smaller amount of fertilizer than recommended which might result in much lesser production” Lee, a long-time advocate of agricultural reforms, said.

“Through this bill, we assure our agricultural sector that we respond and guarantee them that in scenarios of high prices of these agricultural inputs, subsidies are available as we separately push to sustainably increase its local manufacturing and production,” Lee added.

According to AGRI Party-list’s monitoring, the unabated hike in prices of agricultural inputs, particularly fertilizers, has almost tripled in just 18 months.

Reports revealed that the price of urea increased from an estimate of P900 to P950 per bag in 2021 to P2,240 to P2,920 in February 2022. This would also mean that around P1,340 to P1,970 per bag will be added in an average of six to eight bags per hectare used by rice farmers.

“This alarming situation will undeniably cripple our farmers; all our efforts in increasing productivity will go in vain if we fail to protect our small farmers from this ‘fertilizer crisis,’” Lee added.

Under HB 3528, the subsidies will come in the form of actual fertilizer bags or subsidy vouchers depending on the prevailing market prices and geographical and logistical challenges of the regions. Pesticide assistance will also be provided through subsidy vouchers considering that a number of crop growers are also affected by pestilence.

According to AGRI Party-list’s monitoring, the unabated hike in prices of agricultural inputs, particularly fertilizers, has almost tripled in just 18 months.

Eligible beneficiaries of this proposed measure must meet the following criteria:

  1. A bona fide Filipino citizen who is a member of the Agri-basic sector;
  2. Must be at least 18 years old at the time of registration;
  3. Must be a farmer, farm laborer/ worker, or Agri-youth based on the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) Definitions of Members of the Agriculture and Fisheries Sector.

This legislative measure is in line with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s objective to make fertilizers more affordable for farmers and increase their productivity.

“Umaasa po tayo sa suporta ng Kongreso upang agarang maisabatas ang panukalang ito. Hangad po natin na maibsan ang mga pasanin ng mga magsasaka, mapalaki ang kanilang produksyon at kita para sa pangangailangan ng pamilya, at sa paghakbang natin palapit sa katuparan ng inaasam na food security,” Lee added.

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