THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) said its centralized bidding system for fertilizer procurement helped bring retail prices for urea fertilizer below P1,000 per 50-kilogram bag.

“The downward trend of prices of urea shows that we are on the right track in centralizing the bidding process, thus providing our farmers nationwide with affordable and reasonably-priced fertilizer,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement Thursday.

The DA said the price of urea fertilizer exceeded P1,100 per bag in recent months, noting that the national average price of urea fertilizer between February and April was P1,051 per bag, according to the Fertilizer Pesticide Authority and the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Fertilizer procurers were authorized to spend about P1,000 per bag, leading allegations that the DA overpaid after some regional prices were shown to be less than P1,000.

According to the DA, bidders that submitted proposals below P1,000 were considered as long as they complied with the legal, technical, and financial requirements.

Mr. Dar said the procured fertilizer will be distributed to farmers participating in the DA’s Rice Resiliency Project on a buy two, take two basis for those using certified inbred seed and ‘buy two, take three’ for those using hybrid seed.

The DA said two companies won the first two fertilizer auctions and were awarded contracts to supply 1.8 million bags. La Filipina Uy Gongco Corp. and Atlas Fertilizer made offers of around P900 to P995 per bag.

“The volume awarded to them comprised four of the original 16 lots,” the DA said.

The companies will distribute fertilizer directly to municipalities identified for the Rice Resiliency Project in Central Luzon, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), Western Visayas, and Central Visayas.

The unawarded 12 lots have been repackaged into 26 smaller lots to attract more bidders. The bid announcement was published on May 28.

On June 17, four suppliers submitted bids and three qualified, with the disqualified bidder ruled out due to incomplete requirements.

The three qualified suppliers bid for eight lots out of the 26 and are currently being evaluated by the bids and awards committee’s technical working group.

The qualified suppliers are Goldman’s Supply Corp., which is seeking to supply North Cotabato, First Planters Agri Solution for La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Pangasinan, and Universal Harvester, Inc. for Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino.

The committee is expected to complete the bid evaluation and award the lots by July 9.

Bid winners must deliver 50% of the lot not later than July 15, with the other half expected by July 31. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave