Flavio Mamani grows olives, oregano and watermelon in La Yarada, Tacna. In the last two years, he has witnessed the vertiginous increase in fertilizer prices and the decrease in the production of their farms.
“A year and a half ago the bag of ammonium nitrate and urea cost S/65, now ammonium nitrate is at S/450 and urea at S/250”, mentions the also president of the Board of Users of Irrigation of La Yarada.
The investment in fertilization before the increase in the main fertilizers was around S/15,000 per hectare, while now it exceeds S/25,000. For this reason, farmers currently apply a smaller amount of this product to their crops.
“We put 20% less fertilizer, which also affects the yield of production”, comment.
The fall in the level of fertilization will also affect employment in the agricultural sector this season, according to Mamani.
“We now offer around 40,000 to 50,000 jobs every day. Of this amount, 20% or 30% will be affected in this year’s agricultural campaign”, he estimates.
The seed potato problem
The Majes Valley planted nearly 3,000 hectares of potatoes each year; however, in the previous campaign, which ends this month, they planted just 1,100 hectares, mentions Pedro Lázaro, agricultural leader of the aforementioned valley.
The above as a result of the fact that the production cost per hectare of potatoes went from about S/25,000 to more than S/35,000 in the last year. To this added that there were no fertilizers on the market.
In addition to the decrease in labor, the reduction in the use of pesticides and hours of tractors due to lack of capital, there is a stronger problem that worries farmers in this area of the country: the lack of seed potatoes.
According to Lázaro, the seed of the tuber they use comes from the mountains, from areas such as Huancavelica and Junín, where as a result of high production costs, they have reduced the planting of potatoes destined for this purpose, which reduced the product offer.
“The farmers’ concern is that there are no seeds for the next campaign,” says Lázaro.
Along the same lines, Arturo Meneses, potato seed producer in the province of Churcampa (Huancavelica), ratifies that this year there has been a decrease in production. “The production of quality or certified seed is being restricted due to the lack of availability of fertilizers and their high cost, as well as the high prices of fuel and labor,” he says. In that sense, he calculates that this year the production of this crop was reduced by approximately 5,000 tons.
In this regard, Pedro Lázaro adds that the reduction in supply will affect sales prices. “If last year they sold us at S/1.80 per kilo, this year it will be worth at least S/4.00 per kilo”esteem.
Likewise, he comments that as the only solution, farmers “will be forced to plant their own production.” However, this potato is of lower quality and the harvest volume for next year will decrease.
Fertiabono would not solve problems
Last Friday the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation (Midagri) approved the list of beneficiary producers of the Fertiabonus, and in the next few days the subsidy of up to S / 7,447 would begin to be paid. However, farmers agree that this aid will not solve the problem.
“Fertiabono helps somewhat, but it won’t solve anything. What we want is for the government to buy fertilizers and bring us something cheaper so that this also affects production prices,” said agricultural leader Pedro Lázaro.