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MANILA - A Marcos-era fertilizer maker and distributor is planning a comeback with the establishment of a factory in Luzon and the expansion of a marketing campaign that provides farmers a grace period in paying for their requirements.
Lawyer Paolo Roberto Calleja, president of state-owned Planters Products Inc., said the company aims to regain its 85 percent share of the local fertilizer market that was lost to multinational firms.
He said PPI aims to produce between 150,000 and 200,000 metric tons of fertilizers in the next three years, recovering 10 percent of a 1.5-1.7 million metric ton market.
“We are thinking of establishing a fertilizer plant either in Bulacan or Isabela,” he said.
The company operated a urea manufacturing plant in Limay, Bataan using byproducts from Petron Corp.'s refinery. In 2010, PPI began importing organic fertilizer from Thailand's Ionique Co. Ltd.
PPI operates a pesticide factory at the Carmelray industrial park in Laguna, producing a million kilos a year.
Established as ESSO Standard Fertilizer and Agrichemical Co. Inc. in 1962, the company was taken over by the Sugar Producers Cooperative and Marketing Association in 1970.
In 1974, then President Ferdinand Marcos ordered that the company's shares be transferred to the Planters Foundation Inc. and distributed among 830,000 farmers.
Attached to the Department of Agriculture, the company used to dominate the local market, supplying the requirements of farmers taking part in the Marcos government's Masagana 99 rice production program. Begun in 1973, the program was aimed at increasing palay output from 30 metric tons a hectare to 99 metric tons.
Besides venturing into organic fertilizers and pesticides, PPI also plans to expand its "Plant Now, Pay Later" scheme, providing small farmers farm inputs on loan with no interest for a 150-day period.
Jose Robel Cantimbuhan, PPI director for crop nutrition, said the company developed a partnership with irrigator associations to identify the farmers who qualify for the program.
A total of P2.8 million has been lent out to farmers involved in the program, he said.
PPI has distributed farm inputs in Pangasinan, covering 2,000 hectares.
Cantimbuhan said the company is seeking support from Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to expand coverage of the scheme to 16,000 hectares.
Ian Francis Loria, PPI assistant vice president for administration and operations, said the company also established the “Seed to Shelf” program that assists rice growers every step of the way.
“We want to persuade farmers to support the company by providing them farm inputs including seeds, fertilizers and agrochemical products and educating them with the latest technology and securing profit by buying their produce,” Loria said.
“PPI’s giving away hybrid corn and palay seeds, pesticides and fertilizers and even working with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. on insurance for the benefit of farmers,” he said.
PPI also tied up with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and the Social Security System to help farmers secure medical and financial assistance.
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