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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Bacolod: Sugar mill gate prices drop, solon calls for SRA intervention

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Bacolod City – Following the drop in mill gate prices of sugar, Negros Occidental 5th District Rep. Emilio “Dino” Yulo III called on the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to manage it, so as not to affect small sugar farmers.

Yulo reported that mill gate prices per 50-kilogram bag of sugar went down from P3,300 to P2,800, before bouncing back to P3,000.

We should continue to maintain that profitability level of our farmers, he stressed, adding that “this is the only time that our small farmers, especially those in the hinterlands, mill their sugarcane, as summer is coming already.”

However, Yulo said “it is too early to say that the decrease in prices of sugar is the effect of the entry of smuggled sugar into the country.”

“Sugar is a political commodity. It is easily affected by the current scenarios and environment. I presume that the decrease in farm gate prices is a product of the concern of stakeholders of the industry over these allegations,” he pointed out.

The National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers earlier expressed fears that the sugar importation will further lead to further drops in sugar prices.

The SRA recently issued Sugar Order No. 6 allowing the importation of 440,000 metric tons of sugar.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, however, said a large volume of shipments of imported sugar arrived in the country ahead of the issuance SO 6.

Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban earlier said he considered the memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin dated January 13 as a “sugar order” to proceed with the importation to augment the country’s tightening supply of the commodity and prevent price surges.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson warned that the drop in the farm gate prices of sugar will badly affect the small farmers, mostly from the province, and excessive sugar entering the country will drive mill gate prices down, and hurt the country’s sugar industry, already reeling from the high prices of fertilizer and fuel.

Yulo said he is compiling all the documents needed amid calls from stakeholders of the sugar industry that Congress conduct an investigation into allegations of smuggling of sugar without any sugar order.

“Any investigation should be about getting to the bottom of all these claims and establishing the timeline from these,” he added.

If we base the performance of the current executives of the SRA on the prices of sugar, Yulo said in the past months “they were ok until the drop of farm gate prices.”

The SRA estimates that the local sugar industry can only produce 1.9 [million] metric tons while our domestic consumption is pegged at 2.3 to 2.4 metric tons, he said.

“It is ok to import sugar as long as farm gate prices every week are not affected, until the end of the milling season,” Yulo added. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)

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