QUEZON CITY, January 27, 2022 – The Department of Agriculture (DA) put forward the Balanced Fertilization Strategy (BFS) Program to sustain crop production as the increasing prices of fertilizer still looms.
Most fertilizers’ prices, particularly phosphates and urea, soared since March 2021 due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, strong global demand, and higher input costs.
As a long-time net importer of inorganic fertilizer with a low feasibility of producing its own, the Philippines was badly affected by the price uptrend.
As a solution, the DA will create a technical working group (TWG) to generate policies and directives to guide government agencies, state universities and colleges, and other stakeholders on the program’s implementation.
The program, to be spearheaded by the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), will address rising prices of fertilizers by promoting a wide scale adoption of balanced fertilization and efficient use of inorganic fertilizers through integrated nutrient management of practices for crops such as rice, vegetables, fruits, among other things.
It will also intensify support for soil testing and consider other growth-enhancing inputs such as biologics (e.g. biofertilizers, foliar, and stimulant).
“The BFS is a climate smart adaptation. We take consideration of the concept of 4Rs: Right Nutrient, Right Quantity, Right Method, and Right Time,” discussed by Myer Mula, DA-Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Director and DA-Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) Deputy Director for Fertilizer, during the first BFS-TWG meeting on January 5.
Meanwhile, the DA will continue assisting the private sector to source out fertilizer supply from other countries through bilateral arrangements.
Aside from the BFS Program, the agency is also exploring other solutions like providing subsidies and compost shredder machines, sourcing from new players, using nanofertilizers and biofertilizers, and reviving the Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corporation (PhilPhos).
According to the International Potash Institute, balanced fertilization is the key to sustainable crop production and maintenance of soil health.
The imbalanced use of fertilizer results in its low efficiency leading to less economic returns and greater threat to the environment such as land degradation.
DA Secretary Dar said it is important to judiciously use a combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers to achieve the maximum potential of farms and attain food security. The optimum manner is designed to supplement the correct ratio of plant nutrients.
Organic fertilizers recommended are commercial products or locally available farm manure, compost, etc.
Tried and tested
The BFS was already implemented on 141 irrigated rice farms, each about 0.5 hectare (ha), in the country during the first and second cropping seasons from 1997 to 1998.
The demonstration project proved to be economically viable, providing benefits from the standpoint of farmer, the community, and the nation as a whole. The farmers gained more yield and income, the community benefited from the extra rice supply, and the nation advanced economically and environmentally.
In 2020, DA Secretary Dar issued a policy on the ‘Adoption of Adaptive Balanced Fertilization Management for Enhanced Crop Production and Increased Income of Rice Farmers’ in support of the BSWM’s Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Project conducted from 2015 to 2020 in Bukidnon and Leyte.
The project, done in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Philippines, provided developmental research, technology and policies to address land degradation process and mitigate effects of drought caused by changing climate and unregulated human activities.
Although some farmers of the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) of the DA already practice the use of organic fertilizers (e.g. chicken dung, vermicompost, and foliar), the program still needs to strengthen and further promote the BFS.
The DA-SAAD will incorporate the BFS on its training and align the provision of livelihood inputs in support of the program. ###
Writer: Jhomai S. Canlas, SAAD Public Relations and Communications Head
Benbi, D., Brar, M., & Bansal, S. 2006. Balanced Fertilization for Sustaining Crop Productivity. International Potash Institute, 978-3-9523243-2-5. Retrieved from https://www.ipipotash.org/uploads/udocs/BALANCED_FERTILIZATION_FOR_SUSTAINING_CROP_PRODUCTIVITY.pdf
Bejarin, G. 2021. OneDA commits to sustain gains in agri sector. Retrieved from https://www.da.gov.ph/oneda-commits-to-sustain-gains-in-agri-sector/
Bureau of Soils and Water Management. 2020. Terminal Report on Implementation of Sustainable Land Management Practices to Address Land Degradation and Mitigate Effects of Drought. Retrieved from http://bswm.da.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/UNDP-GEF-SLM-Final-Project-Report.pdf
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Roldan, W., Mula, M., Lansangan, J., Reyes, R., & Layag, I. 2021. Rising Fertilizer Prices: A Reality. Retrieved from /2021/11/rising-fertilizer-prices-a-reality/