P2.3M worth of fertilizers in Bukidnon put on hold

BAGONTA-AS, Valencia City (MindaNews/19 Aug) – The Fertilizers and Pesticides Authority has put on hold P2.3-million worth of organic fertilizers and pesticides here following complaints by farmers over alleged substandard quality, overpricing, and rigged bidding.

About 2,700 bags of Grow Organic Fertilizers and 3,741 liters of Green Organic liquid fertilizer-pesticides have been placed inside a motor pool building in the National Irrigation Administration compound after these were delivered in the first quarter of 2010.

Jimmy Apostol, NIA Bukidnon irrigation officer, told MindaNews Wednesday the fertilizers and pesticides are part of the last of three tranches of the NIA’s Bio-Organic Fertilizer Subsidy Project in Northern Mindanao initiated in June 2009.

The stocks have been put on hold since last June 4 by virtue of an FPA “stop use/stop move/stop sale” (SUMS) order pending their own tests of samples.

Two months after samples were taken, the fertilizers and pesticides are still kept in the open motor pool building.

Danilo Negre, FPA provincial officer, said the stocks will remain in their present condition.

“We will wait until further notice because those are under investigation. The stocks should be held intact per SUMS order,” Negre said via SMS.

The project is now subject of an investigation by a Department of Agriculture fact-finding team after the provincial board, whose help was sought by the farmers, requested for it from the DA national office.

Apostol said he is no longer sure if the fertilizers could still be used as these have been exposed to the elements. He explained that it took them time to distribute the last batch of the fertilizers because intended farmer beneficiaries still did not claim these due to the El Niño phenomenon.

“But when farmers started asking about these in June as the rains started to come, the hold order also came (following the provincial board request for laboratory tests),” he added.

He said the first two tranches were delivered in time for the farmers’ planting. Unfortunately, he added, the third came during El Niño.

Farmers who availed of the first two tranches reported of substandard fertilizers. A number of them have kept the stocks in their backyard instead of applying these to their farms.

Francisco Matulac Jr., president of the Bayanihan G-7 Lateral Irrigators Association in Sinayawan, Valencia City, said that about 90 sacks of fertilizers intended for their members are still in his backyard because they no longer intend to use these after hearing complaints from those who used fertilizers in the first tranche.

“It is too dry and unfit for cultivation,” he said.

The DA was given 45 days to investigate the project after Glenn Peduche, then a board member and now a Valencia City councilor, exposed the project at the provincial board following complaints from farmers.

Atty. Charissa Kay Alvarez, DA-10 legal officer, told MindaNews earlier they will submit their report to the legal office of the DA national headquarters in mid-September. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)