A MEASURE providing incentives to farm cooperatives and associations for the use of organic fertilizer has been filed in the Senate.

In Senate Bill No. 1339, Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay proposed to exempt cooperatives and association from the payment of certain fees and charges.

The bill amends Presidential Decree No. 1144 by exempting those engaged in the domestic sale and trade of organic fertilizer from registration fees, license fees and other administrative charges.

“Much of the fertilizer needs of our farmers are still being met by traditional organic fertilizers,” Ms. Binay said in the explanatory note.

“With the recent attraction towards organic farming, local demand for traditional organic fertilizers has increased in the past few years.”

The bill directs the Fertilizers and Pesticide Authority (FPA) to issue guidelines for screening cooperatives and associations that may avail of the exemption.

It will also grant an amnesty to farmers who may have unknowingly violated provisions of the Decree, which prohibits the sale of pesticides, fertilizers or any agricultural chemical that has not been registered with the FPA.

The law provides for penalties of 15g20 years imprisonment, if the value involved is more than P50,000.

For P10,000 or less, violators are subject to 10-15 years imprisonment and a fine worth three times the amount involved, subject to a cap of 20,000. In cases when the amount cannot be determined, a fine of P5,000-P10,000 will be imposed.

The amnesty, which should be applied for within two years from the law’s effectivity, is intended to encourage farmers to register with the FPA.

“Regulation should be encouraged in view of the susceptibility of a free market regime to abuse,” Ms. Binay said.

Funding for the measure is set at P50 million. — Charmaine A. Tadalan