Farmers urge probe on 2020 Fertilizer Scam

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas expressed full support to House Resolution 922 filed by the Makabayan bloc urging the committees on Agriculture and Food and Good Government and Public Accountability to investigate the overpriced fertilizers purchased by the Department of Agriculture. “The demand for a probe is just and urgent. We have to get to the bottom of this. We hope the DA cooperates,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos says. “A Senate probe is much welcome. All public funds and resources intended for farmers must be spent carefully.”

Farmers said recent retail purchases of urea fertilizer revealed that a bag could fetch for P830 in Tarlac, P810 in Pangasinan, and P840 in Nueva Ecija. Based on the monitoring of KMP regional chapters, average prevailing prices of per bag of urea fertilizer since last month have not changed and are as follows:

Tarlac – P850
Nueva Ecija – P830 to P870
Isabela – P880 to P1,100
Quirino – P1080
Camarines Sur – P1,000
Iloilo – P880
South Cotabato – 850
Cagayan de Oro – P850
Agusan del Sur – P950
Davao City – 800
Davao de Oro – 1,000

The controversial fertilizer supply was purchased by the DA under its Rice Resiliency Program (RRP) with target beneficiaries of 2.5 million rice farmers. This program aims to increase rice productivity to 94 percent. However, KMP said the government’s RRP also has its pitfalls, mainly because of the shrinking land area for rice production as a result of wanton land-use conversion, the country’s dismal mechanization rate compared to other rice-producing countries, and lack of irrigation. The lack of government subsidies for rice and agricultural production also burden rice farmers who are shelling out most of the expenses and cost of rice farming.

Farmers need to buy at least two sacks of fertilizer and own at least one hectare of land before they can avail of free fertilizer from DA. The two free bags can only go to those who have received palay seeds under the rice resiliency project. “Such unnecessary requirements exclude poor small farmers who form the majority of farmers and are most in need of aid and support,” Mariano concludes. ###

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