Bacolod City – In an apparent move to unite the sugar industry, leaders of various groups comprising the industry sat down to draw up measures and mechanics as the government gave its nod to intervene in the prevailing situation by buying sugar directly from the farmers at a premium price.
Sugar industry stakeholders have repeatedly expressed alarm over the continued plummet of sugar prices to about P2,400 per 50 kilo bag, which is below the comfortable profit margin for sugar producers and small farmers.
The outcry has prompted the SRA to propose buying sugar directly from farmers, to address the clamor of sugar producers over plummeting prices.
Sugar Regulatory Administration head Pablo Azcona thanked President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. for “keeping their commitment to help the industry, particularly the sugar farmers.”
Azcona described the gathering of sugar industry leaders and its stakeholders as a “momentous event,” recalling that it was done about eight years ago.
He hopes that it will be the beginning of a unified industry that openly communicates and supports each other.
The Department of Agriculture, along with SRA and the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) invited all sugar federation leaders, millers, farmers, and traders in a meeting on January 19 at the DA office, to discuss how to go about helping farmers through the direct buying of sugar at a premium price, following the drop in sugar prices since the start of the milling season.
All federations, including the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED), Confederation of Sugarcane Farmers (CONFED), National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), LuzonFED, Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers Inc (PANAYFED), the Philippine Sugar Millers Association, the Philippine Association of Sugar Refiners, sugar farmers, and traders helped in crafting the mechanics of government participating in buying the sugar produce, according to Azcona.
He added that they also discussed steps to be taken to further enhance productivity and profitability, ensure stability of sugar supply for consumers and industrial users, better retail prices, and keeping in mind that the sugar farmer is also a retail consumer.
“Bringing all our sugar leaders to sit in one table and discuss together the state of the industry has not happened in such a long time and this is a sign that the industry is united in finding a solution to improve the plight of the sugar farmer, who, in reality, is the most important link in the sugar supply chain,” Azcona said, stressing also that, “without the farmer, the mills have nothing to grind, the traders have nothing to trade and the consumers and industrials will have no sugar for their needs.”
Azcona thanked the President and Laurel for their continued trust and support to SRA and remains optimistic that this cooperation from all industry stakeholders will be the key towards positive growth of the industry. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)