Bacolod City – The National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) and the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (PANAYFED) asked the Sugar Regulatory Administration to allocate equally between sugar producers and industrial users the rights for the proposed sugar importation, and to implement a fair and transparent process in awarding the importation.
“We recommend that all sugar producers, both planters and millers alike, should be allowed to participate in the program through their federations or associations, or through any accredited sugar trader to whom they will assign their import rights,” stated NFSP President Enrique Rojas and PANAYFED President Danilo Abelita in their joint letter sent to the Sugar Board.
Pres. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., as Agriculture Secretary, heads the Sugar Board. Other members include SRA Administrator David John Thaddeus Alba, and Board Members Pablo Luis Azcona (Planters Representative) and Ma. Mitzi Mangwag (Millers Representative).
Through its Sugar Orders, the Sugar Board formulates and implements policies for the country’s sugar industry.
In January, industrial users requested the President to craft a sugar importation plan so that they will not run out of sugar for their factories. The Agriculture Department and SRA then recommended an importation volume of 450,000 MT, which was met with the vehement opposition of NFSP, PANAYFED and CONFED, who unanimously recommended a lesser volume of 350,000 MT, to arrive in July and August 2023.
Rojas and Abelita narrated that industrial users have been lobbying for direct importation, but this is unfair to producers. Giving industrial users the exclusive right to import will serve as an incentive for them to rely on importation, at the expense of local farmers whose sugar will be displaced in the market by these importations, they pointed out.
“Producers should be granted import rights, so that we can also benefit from the program and somehow make up for the high cost of production in the past years. We are amenable to sharing the importation volume on an equal allocation with industrial users,” said Rojas and Abelita in their letter.
They also called for an open and transparent application process in the importation program to ensure that the importation will not be monopolized by some favored traders.
“Further, we strongly recommend that the submission of the applications for importation, the evaluation and the awarding of the winning application should be done in a transparent manner, and in a manner which allows all interested accredited sugar traders to participate and submit their applications,” they stated.
In the past years, SRA granted sugar producers the rights to the importation of sugar, which is allocated based on the association’s or federation’s percentage of production in the previous crop year. Such rights were also granted by SRA to producers during the times when SRA deemed it necessary to convert the allocation of sugar from one class to another class, so that producers would not be deprived of their income opportunities. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)