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To reduce importation, DA gives local biofertilizers top priority.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) promised on Monday that local producers will be given preference in purchasing biofertilizers.

In a teleradio interview, DA Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian stated that given the sizeable number of factories in the nation, helping the farmers is required under Memorandum Order No. 32.

“It’s in the guidelines to prioritize the local because we want to reduce our importation of inorganic fertilizer, which is very expensive,” he said. “Inorganic fertilizer importation is very expensive, so we want to reduce it.”

Sebastian stated that the administration wished to avoid what occurred the previous year when farmers suffered due to rising import fertilizer prices that reached PHP3,000 per bag.

Sebastian further highlighted that the PHP2,000 fertilizer price listed in the memorandum was only intended as an example and is subject to change.

“Therefore, ‘yun ‘yung gagamitin mo na pamkumpara sa procurement procedure,’ if mangyayari ‘yung mas mababang presyo, edi siyempre. When it comes to purchasing, even for PHP 2,000 or a price for biofertilizer, there is no way it will stay; instead, it will just be used as an example. (If the price decreases, you will be comparing products using that figure during the procurement process. Because of procurement, we won’t adhere to the PHP 2,000 pricing for the biofertilizer. It’s only being used as an example),” he remarked.

He noted that the message was written in April last year when the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority’s pricing monitoring showed that the typical fertilizer price was still PHP2,000 per bag.

Sebastian, however, stated that the DA also anticipates a decrease in fertilizer prices due to trends in the global market.

“Dahil sa Ukraine War na ‘yan, dahil itong Russia, nagbabagsak ng stock, dahil gusto makaipon ng pera. As a result of the Ukraine War, Russia is pulling down its stock prices to save money. They have a lot of supplies. Therefore, the price of fertilizer could decrease even. Further, he said.

Sebastian responded to many worries that the memo would result in yet another fertilizer scam.

“If I am a victim of a scam, I am not a victim of a national policy because I am abusing myself,” she said. Very fair and transparent, pagkatapos… If you want to commit fraud, you won’t make a national standard because you’ll be easily caught, so kakausapin mo na lang ‘yung magpapa-bid at impluwensyahan mo na lang sila na ito ilagay niyo na specification. However, the policy is quite open and equitable. You will cooperate with bidders and sway them regarding specifications (but for fraud, of course),” he stated.

In contrast, local biofertilizers may now be purchased for as little as PHP 500 per bag, according to the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG). At the same time, urea fertilizer prices have dropped from PHP 1,200 to PHP 1,300.

The DA, on the other hand, emphasized that the criteria search for a manufacturer that can teach and educate farmers on the proper application of biofertilizers and a manufacturer who can submit the lowest offer in the procurement.

The DA is still analyzing the budget for the large-scale biofertilizer promotion of this year’s procurement.

Next year, it plans to adopt a voucher system for farmers, paying an estimated PHP2,000 per acre.

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