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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Bacolod: Sugar price slide alarms labor, farmer groups

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A labor group has warned of social unrest, joblessness, economic dislocation, and the eventual collapse of the sugar industry, if the price of sugar continues to plummet.

“The time that we dreaded most has come,” disclosed Wennie Sancho, Secretary General of General Alliance of Workers Associations and Convenor of Save the Sugar Industry Movement.

Sugar farmers blamed sugar importation for the low prices of sugar, with prevailing prices reported between P2,300 to P2,500 per 50 kilo bag, which is below the expected price level of P3,200 which provides a comfortable profit margin for sugar producers and small farmers.

There is more supply, but demands remain the same, according to Sancho, as he blamed the oversupply to the Sugar Import Liberalization Scheme Policy of the government.

Describing it as alarming, he said the sugar import liberalization will have an adverse effect on ARBs, small farmers, industrial and mill workers who are dependent on the sugar industry.

Conservative estimate shows that there are around 300,000 sugar workers in the island of Negros and about 500,000 nationwide. There are about 65,000 sugar farmers in the country, according to Sancho.

If the downward trend in the prices of sugar shall continue, it would be devastating for the labor sector, he added.

Sancho said the penchant of the government to implement sugar import liberalization without doing an assessment on the state of readiness of the sugar industry is a fatal mistake.

It will be a blue Christmas for the workers in the sugar industry, if there is no intervention from the government to address this crucial problem, especially that the mill gate price of sugar is at P50 per kilo, while the retail price continue to remain at P80 at the expense of the consumers, he added.

Sancho said they are joining the call for government intervention and proposed a dialogue with the planters group for a united front to address this issue, in order to save the workers from economic catastrophe.

A unified action is necessary to avert the impending disaster, he stressed.

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

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