Senator Imee Marcos has called for “immediate intervention” by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to bring down “outrageous” fertilizer prices as rice farmers prepare for the next planting season.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, warned that high fertilizer prices will push up not only farmers’ production costs but also consumer prices.

The senator called a “double whammy” the concurrent increase in fertilizer prices and fuel costs which affected the irrigation and transport expenses of farmers.

“Current fertilizer prices are burying local farmers deeper in debt even before they can press their rice seedlings into the ground, while at harvest time cheap rice imports keep farmgate prices extremely low,” Marcos said.

“Fertilizer subsidies should have been distributed by the DA even before the wet season, together with the seeds. What happened to the budget for fertilizer subsidies?” she asked.

Fertilizer prices in early January averaged only Php1,044.65 for Urea, 1,063.77 for Complete Fertilizer, and Php987.30 for 16-20-0 fertilizer, according to the DA’s Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA).

Complaints from local farmers reaching Marcos’s office cited that fertilizer prices have more than doubled, with a 50-kilogram bag of Urea now costing Php2,300; “Triple” or Complete Fertilizer (14-14-14) at Php1,750; and the 16-20-0 mix at Php1,650.

The farmers’ quoted prices were higher than the published prices of the FPA as of last week, which averaged only Php2,0333.58 for Urea, Php1,542.78 for Complete Fertilizer, and Php1,422.08 for 16-20-0 fertilizer.

“The situation on the ground shows that prices being published by the FPA are not in touch with reality,” Marcos said.

“The irony is that we are an agricultural country whose fertilizer industry remains import-dependent. We need to protect our local farmers to attain food sufficiency and security by producing our own fertilizers,” Marcos concluded.