THE government can help farmers cope with the drought brought by El Niño if it can find ways to bring down fertilizer cost, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said Sunday.
With oil prices tumbling in the world market, Escudero said the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) can initiate talks with manufacturers and distributors about the possibility of a fertilizer price cut.
Based on the FPA price monitoring covering the period August 10 to 14, a 50 kg bag of Triple 14 has an average price of P1,156.88; a 21-0-0 still costs P558.36; and 16-20-0 is still sold at P977.99 per bag.
Escudero said that while fertilizer prices are deregulated, the FPA, which is under the Office of the President, can pressure manufacturers to lower the retail rates of their products for the benefit of small farmers.
“Our farmers are already facing the threat of a strong El Niño in the coming months. They need all the help they can get to augment their finances as they brace for possible crop losses because of the prevailing dry spell,” the senator said.
He noted that in 2008, fertilizer prices dropped by as much as 43 percent after the Department of Agriculture (DA) asked suppliers to bring down their retail rates to reflect the low price of oil.
Escudero said he sees no reason why the FPA could not make the same call now.
“Even if they bring down their retail prices, manufacturers and distributors can still earn because of the low production cost brought by the oil price cuts,” he explained.
Escudero said the FPA should scrutinize the prevailing prices of fertilizers amid complaints that the retail rates of said farm inputs are not commensurate to the reduction in manufacturing costs brought about by the huge drop in oil prices.
The FPA, which is mandated to ensure adequate supply of fertilizers and pesticides at reasonable costs, was transferred from the DA to the Office of the President last year via Executive Order No.165.