THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said the Philippines is negotiating with various countries a government-to-government fertilizer supply deal, with a target signing date of January.
“We are still finalizing the volume in the coming days. Hopefully we will be able to close the deal within January,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel V. de Mesa said during the DA’s yearend briefing on Monday.
Mr. De Mesa said the negotiations are taking place with several countries, which he did not identify.
“We are looking at all countries, the President said we need to get the least-cost fertilizer. We need to secure the transaction to ensure that by the time we need it, prices won’t go up,” he said, referring to the planting season, where fertilizer will be in demand.
In July, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., who concurrently serves as the Agriculture Secretary, said that the government is planning to pursue government-to-government deals with top suppliers of fertilizer such as China and Russia.
“This is not yet final. We are considering all countries, which one will be the most advantageous for the government,” he said.
He said that the fertilizer should be landed before the wet season begins.
“For government-to-government deals, we hope to close it at a lower cost and higher volume,” he added.
According to the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, the average price of urea, which is the most commonly-used fertilizer, sold for P2,538.27 per 50 kilograms in the Nov. 7-11 period.
Mr. De Mesa said the DA is considering a voucher-based distribution scheme for the fertilizer obtained through the deal.
“It could be mixed, the one that we will be distributing is either through vouchers because we have already identified the farmers through RSBSA (the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture). Once the fertilizer is released, this can also be distributed through grants,” he said.
In October, the DA said it added P4.1 billion to the government’s fertilizer subsidy program to help cushion the impact of higher prices. — Ashley Erika O. Jose