PNA file photo

A lawmaker on Monday called for the immediate release of fuel subsidy and other forms of assistance for farmers and fisherfolk amid the soaring prices of oil in the international market.

Magsasaka Party-list Rep. Argel Cabatbat said the successive oil price increases have an indirect effect on the prices of farm inputs, especially since farmers and fisherfolk are already “bearing the brunt of skyrocketing costs of fertilizers and the unreasonably low farm gate prices of their produce.”

Cabatbat said this week marks the eighth time in a row that fuel price hikes took effect.

Since the start of the year, prices of gasoline have already went up by PHP7.95 per liter while diesel and kerosene prices have risen by PHP10.20 and PHP9.10 per liter, respectively.

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“Oil prices have an indirect effect on the prices of farm inputs, and we fear that the rising prices of petroleum products will adversely affect our farmers and prices of their produce,” he said

Based on data from the Department of Agriculture, 14 percent or PHP1.73 goes to animal, machine, fuel and oil for every kilo of rice, before the series of fuel price hikes last year.

“The figure has definitely ballooned many times over, with farmers suffering tremendous losses. Breaking even has become virtually impossible,” he said.

To cushion the impact of fuel price hikes, Cabatbat called for the immediate release of the fuel subsidy fund to the agriculture sector, noting the appropriated budget for Fuel Discount for Farmers and Fisherfolk Program under the General Appropriations Act for 2022.

Under the law, those who own and operate agricultural and fishery machinery individually or through a farmer organization, cooperative or association will be given fuel subsidy. That is provided the average Dubai crude oil price for three months reaches or exceeds USD80 per barrel. (PNA)

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