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Monday, December 11, 2023

Bacolod: Sugar Council supports SRA probe into low farmgate prices

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The probe of the Sugar Regulatory Administration on the low farmgate prices of sugar got the support of the three planters’ federations that comprise the Sugar Council.

In a statement, the Sugar Council, which lauded the SRA for taking the initiative, said they strongly supported SRA’s move to investigate why sugar prices have been lower than the P3,000 per 50-kilo bag figure which SRA itself forecasted before the start of the milling season.

“We look forward to a comprehensive and expeditious probe, and we eagerly await its results,” the Sugar Council stressed.

Comprising the Sugar Council with their respective presidents, are the Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations, Inc. (CONFED) led by Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama, Jr.,the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) headed by Enrique Rojas, and the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (PANAYFED) led by DaniloAbelita.

When the first two biddings of the milling season yielded prices between P2,500 to P2,750 per bag, it said that SRA Administrator Paul Azcona issued a statement that they will  investigate what could have caused the price depression.

“Definitely none of the farmers want the low price so we will focus our investigation among the mills, traders and importers to see if there is some abnormality in their dealings but rest assured that we will get to the bottom of this. Someone is definitely making a scenario and we will not take this sitting down,” Azcona said in a statement on September 18.

Azcona has aired suspicions of “irregularities” or “price manipulation” behind the decline of sugar prices, which have not recovered until now.

Farmgate prices of sugar last week ranged from P2,501 to P2,760 per bag, still lower than the P3,000 per bag expected by sugarcane farmers.

A farm gate price of P2,760 per 50-kilo bag translates to only P55.20 per kilo in the retail market. But in reality, the actual retail price of sugar continues to hover between P80 to P100 per kilo, the Sugar Council said, as it wondered why the farmgate price is low.

This also proves that sugar farmers are not causing the high retail prices, it added.

To help arrest the drop in farmgate prices, SRA released on October 12 Board Resolution No. 2023-159, dated September 26, 2023 “to hold in abeyance all applications of conversion and maintain the classification of all imported sugar as Reserved”.

“Despite the fact that the average retail price of sugar remains the same, the average farmgate price of raw sugar which hovered between P2,500  to P2,750 per bag during the first two weeks of CY 2023-2024 continues to go down, to the detriment of sugar farmers, allegedly by reason of oversupply,” the SRA stated among its premises to the resolution.

(Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS) 


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