THE FERTILIZER and Pesticide Authority (FPA) said farmers must explore non-traditional fertilizers after sharp increases in the price of imported fertilizer.

“The challenge is to (reduce) our dependence on imported chemical fertilizers by encouraging the use of non-traditional fertilizers like organic, microbial, and biorational fertilizers,” FPA Executive Director Wilfredo C. Roldan said in a text message.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has said that the pandemic will put further pressure on food production costs and the global supply chain.

“The agriculture sector this year will confront global challenges, such as other countries stockpiling fertilizers and fuel prices going up,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement.

The DA cited the United Nations Index, which reported that global food prices hit record highs during the pandemic, with a 28% rise in many foods like grains and meat in the last two years.

Farmers group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) said that the government must provide more support to farmers to deal with rising input costs.

“The problem with the DA is that it keeps relying on imports. They never offer a pro-local farmer solution. The rest of the world is stockpiling fertilizers to support the needs of their respective agriculture sectors,” SINAG said in a statement.

SINAG urged the government to subsidize fertilizer using uncommitted funds generated by the Rice Tariffication Law.

SINAG reported that fertilizer prices nearly doubled to P1,600 per bag in August from P850 a year earlier. In December, fertilizer prices were at P2,500 per bag.

On average, 10 bags of fertilizers are needed for every hectare planted.

“We have been asking the DA since last year to provide subsidies to rice and corn farmers to cover the cost of fertilizer,” SINAG said. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson