By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson, Reporter
THE GOVERNMENT must take the initiative in modernizing sugar mills and providing assistance to sugar millers and farmers if it hopes to augment production and bring down prices, an agricultural analyst said.
“I still believe that mothballed sugar mills (should) be rehabilitated or new ones established around tracts of sugarcane land. Examples of these are in Central Luzon, Pampanga and Tarlac… modernizing sugar mills could be addressed by government and private sector investment,” Roy S. Kempis, retired Pampanga State Agricultural University professor, said via Viber.
“Then, balanced assistance for sugarcane farmers and sugar millers be pursued. They are mutually inclusive and complementary. One will exist if the other exists,” he added.
Mr. Kempis added that the best support for sugar farmers is to ensure fair prices, which is set when they deliver their crop to sugar mills.
The government has had to deal with rising sugar prices amid a shortage of the commodity.
As of Sept. 9, the average price of refined sugar in wet markets had nearly doubled year on year to P97.36. The price of raw sugar rose to P72.64 from P43.36 in 2021.
Earlier this month, the Sugar Regulatory Administration issued Sugar Order (SO) No. 2, which authorized the import of 150,000 metric tons of refined sugar.
It had also issued SO No. 1, which allocated all sugar production this crop year for domestic use.
“With all of the local production now mandated for domestic use, I do not see the possibility of any further imports of sugar for the rest of the season,” Mr. Kempis said.
In a statement, the Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PSMA) welcomed the inclusion of food processors and manufacturers in the Sugar Consultative Assembly (SCA) as this would broaden representation within the body.
“The SCA is a forum where the SRA consults the industry on its programs and projects particularly those under Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA). It is made up of various groups in the sugar industry such as farmers, millers, refiners, sugar workers, block farm representatives and traders. Industrial consumers and local food processors and manufacturers should be part of the council. We shall ask the SRA to include them in the SCA” PSMA Executive Director Jesus L. Barrera said.
“As for high local sugar prices on food exports, food processors/exporters can import sugar tariff-free for as long as the sugar shall be strictly used as raw material for sugar-based products for export and not for sale to the domestic market,” he added.