Bacolod: SRA asked to consult industry over sugar policy

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The Confederation of Sugarcane Producers’ Associations (CONFED) asked the Sugar Regulatory Administration to start consulting the sugar industry on its sugar policy for crop year 2024-2025.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu-Laurel, Jr., CONFED, expressed its concern on government plans to import 200,000 metric tons of sugar in September.

In a statement, CONFED said the report on sugar importation did not include any basis for such a plan, and neither was any stakeholder consultation conducted.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. told Manila-based journalists that the move underwent consultations with stakeholders.

The Department of Agriculture proposal has the support of United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) President Manuel Lamata.

Citing data available from the SRA, as of June, 9, CONFED President Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr., said it indicates adequate sugar inventory levels of both raw (436,229 MT) and refined (492,985 MT) sugar.

Current rates of withdrawal indicate that local inventory can last without importation until the start of the milling season later this year, he added.

Valderrama also pointed out that the SRA has not yet announced the official start of milling for Crop Year ’24-’25, and no crop estimates have yet been made for the new crop year, which has been affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

“Consistent with our frequently-stated position, we reiterate that any sugar importation plan should be data-based, calibrated, totally transparent and fair, done in consultation with industry stakeholders and therefore immune from speculation and manipulation,” he stressed.

Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), also maintained his position that “importation should only be the last resort.”

We should import sugar only when it is absolutely necessary, Rojas said in a statement.

In a statement, Pablo Luis Azcona, Sugar Regulatory Administration head, explained that the program being referred by Secretary Tiu is Sugar Order #2, or the pre-qualification of possible importers by having them pre-qualify by buying “Local farmer sugar first.”

Azcona said that SO2 increased the farmer’s price to a stable P2,700 to P2,800/bag of raw sugar, which also stabilized retail refined prices at P73 to P100/kg. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star)

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