As motorists cry over continued fuel price hikes, Filipino farmers face the same predicament.
Oil companies on Monday announced that they would implement another set of price increases for petroleum products effective Tuesday, June 21. This marks the third consecutive week of fuel price hikes.
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Seaoil Philippines Inc. informed consumers that they would raise the price per liter of gasoline by P0.80, diesel by P3.10, and kerosene by P1.70.
Roberto Umali, a 64-year-old farmer based in Nueva Ecija, is affected by the hike. Diesel, the primary mover of his irrigation machine, costs more than his family’s daily food expenses.
The farmer said a gallon of diesel would cost him P500, usually lasting only a day. His farmland needs to be supplied with a great amount of water every day to maintain moisture, mainly because it hasn’t been raining in their area for the past several days.
“Ang madalas naming ulam sa maghapon isang kilong tilapia,” Umali said in an interview with Interaksyon.
“Nabibili ko lang ‘yon ng P140 per kilo,” he added.
There is a difference of P360 from the P500 he spends on diesel, the amount that could have been used for other necessities.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua in a statement said that the Russia-Ukraine conflict caused the continued oil price surges.
He said the war “disrupted the global supply chain and elevated commodity prices, particularly fuel.”
Because the harvest season is still far and he has yet to plant on his rice plantation, Umali asks for an advanced income from his landowners.
“Mababait ‘yong mga amo ko. Payag naman sila kapag nanghihingi ako ng [advanced income],” he told Interaksyon.
“Madalas sila pa ang nagbabayad ng bill namin sa kuryente,” the farmer added.
But this means that come harvest season, Umali’s income will be lessened. He already spent P3,000 on diesel alone.
Umali has to support his three daughters and a toddler granddaughter.
Amidst the consecutive fuel and commodities price hikes, Umali finds a way to earn extra income to support his family’s needs.
On some nights, he catches as many palakang bukid (rice field frog) and sells them for P200 per kilo the next day.
“Kailangan talaga humanap ng paraan para may makain,” he said.
Government remedy needed
Umali said that the government must find a way to lessen the price of petroleum products as soon as possible because most Filipinos are already suffering.
“Kung ‘yun ngang mayayaman nagrereklamo sa presyo ng gasolina, paano pa kaming mahihirap?” the farmer lamented.
“Dapat talaga bumaba na ang presyo ng diesel dahil lugi na ang magsasaka,” he added.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the headline inflation increased to 5.4 percent in May 2022 from 4.9 percent in April.
The National Economic and Development Authority reported that as of June 1, 2022, “more than 158,000 farmers and fisherfolk are set to receive P3,000 as fuel discounts.”