THE Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) should maximize use of equipment worth at least P6.6 million for analysis of fertilizer and pesticide samples to help farmers, the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay said on Thursday.
Joey Salgado, chief of the Office of the Vice President’s media affairs unit, cited a Commission on Audit (COA) report saying that based on records of the pesticide services division, farmers paid P880,540 to other laboratories for analysis of pesticide products in 2014.
“Had our government made the most out of our pesticide analysis equipment, we could have lowered the cost of the analysis to help our farmers defray some costs,” Salgado said.
The COA report showed a six-year delay in the completion of the laboratory for pesticide analysis because of budget constraint and failure in the bidding process.
Salgado said because of the delay, the FPA failed to immediately generate relevant information to ensure public health, safety and environmental protection in the use of pesticides through analysis of pesticide products.
He also cited the need to assist farmers in pesticide analysis by providing this service at a lower cost.
It is important to ensure that pesticides used are efficient to boost production of agricultural products, according to Salgado.
“We also have to know immediately if the pesticides in the market are not harmful to the farmers and to consumers of the products,” he said.
“A Binay administration wants to strengthen the agricultural sector to ensure food security in the country. We want all Filipinos to have sufficient food to eat. Helping the farmers in every way we can is imperative in attaining food security,” Salgado added.
COA said FPA could have earned “additional income that would ultimately go to the government treasury had the pesticide laboratory facility been fully operational” in 2009.
Also because of the delay in finishing the installation of a pesticide laboratory, COA reported “the equipment and accessories for evaluation and analysis for pesticide worth P5,510,604.00 which have been tested to be operational were not fully utilized, while those worth P1,119,246.00 were left idle as of year-end.”
The laboratory for both fertilizer and pesticide analysis was supposed to be installed in 2009 but only the laboratory for fertilizer analysis was finished in 2011 while the improvement of the laboratory for pesticide analysis was “left behind due to budget constraint,” COA said.
In 2012, FPA asked the Department of Budget and Management for P1 million for the extension or renovation of the existing FPA Laboratory.
FPA conducted biddings in August and September 2013, but both failed because of the disqualification of the bidders.
On October 17, 2014, a notice of award was issued to Reygem Builders, and FPA signed the contract on December 29, 2014 “making it impossible to implement the project,” COA said.
It reported that FPA, in a comment dated April 27, 2015, said the improvement of the laboratory for pesticide is “almost complete and is expected to be operational by August 2015.
The Pesticide Formulation Laboratory Section (PFLS) is a small laboratory with only two chemists provided by the [Budget department] under the approved RatPlan and only one chemist is available to conduct pesticide analysis. The FPA clients have prerogative to submit their pesticide samples for analysis to any of their preferred third party laboratories accredited by FPA.”
“However, according to the Chief, Pesticide Regulatory Division [PRD], it was not the prerogative of the clients to send the samples to FPA accredited laboratories. It was the PRD that fielded out samples [worth P880,540.00]to FPA-accredited laboratories,” COA said.