File photo from PNA

In an attempt to meet the fertilizer requirement for the first planting season this year, the Department of Agriculture’s Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (DA-FPA) is negotiating with China to lower prices.

The country needs 600,000 metric tons (MT) of fertilizer for the first planting season, according to FPA chief Wilfredo Roldan during a virtual briefer on Tuesday.

The DA inventory currently holds 200 MT.

“It is a real fact that the Philippines is a net importer of fertilizer, even if we have the PhilPhos (Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corporation) and Atlas (Fertilizer Corporation), but they are importing their raw materials,” he said.

To date, the price of the commonly imported fertilizer urea is USD900 per ton, which will retail for PHP2,400 to PHP3,000 per bag.

In February and March 2021, it only cost about USD300.

The price increase is caused by high demand in India, Australia, the United States, and Brazil, while big suppliers, like China and Russia, are withholding their exports to ensure their domestic requirements are met, according to Roldan.

Urea is a low-cost nitrogen fertilizer form that promotes green leafy growth and makes the plants look lush.

When China asked for a firm offer, Roldan said the DA set the price at USD500 USD.

“If they will agree on that, that will help us largely,” he said.

DA Secretary William Dar previously urged farm cooperatives to import fertilizers directly from international producers and suppliers.

He also ordered Roldan to look into a balanced strategy that will utilize non-traditional fertilizer. (PNA)