Bacolod City – Sugar producers and millers pushed for amendments to the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2015, increasing its annual allocation to P5 billion, in response to the call of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to boost productivity in the sugar industry.
The SIDA mandates an annual allocation of P2 billion for the sugar industry’s productivity improvement programs, of which 50 percent is earmarked for infrastructure support, 15 percent for grants to block farms, another 15 percent for socialized credit for farm support and farm mechanization programs, 15 percent for research and development, capability building and technology transfer activities, and the remaining five percent for scholarship grants.
However, since its implementation in 2016, the annual allocation was reduced every year by the national government, due to under-spending by the Sugar Regulatory Administration.
As stipulated in the proposal of sugar producers and millers, P2 billion of the P5 billion annual SIDA fund will be allocated for Farm Productivity Improvement, P1 billion for Mill Efficiency Improvement, another P1 billion for Infrastructure Support (Farm-to-Market Roads & Bridges), and P1 billion for Cane-Transport Systems Upgrading.
In a statement, the sugar producers also pushed for the creation of a full-time SRA-SIDA Program Management Structure to enable efficient, timely and effective implementation of programs with clear lines of responsibility.
Program Management Teams headed by Project Management Officers under an SRA-SIDA Program Coordinator shall be hired to manage the different program components. The SRA Administrator shall perform overall supervision of SIDA programs, and submit required performance or accomplishment reports to concerned agencies, it added.
The joint position paper, which they will submit to members of the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as officials of the Department of Agriculture, were signed by Aurelio Valderrama, Jr. of the Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations (CONFED), Enrique D. Rojas of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), Danilo Abelita of the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (PANAYFED) and Atty. Jesus L. Barrera of the Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PSMA).
The CONFED, NFSP, PANAYFED and PSMA represent a substantial majority of the country’s sugar producers and millers.
They also proposed the institutionalization of the Stakeholders’ Consultative Assembly (SCA) and Sugar Industry Development Council (SIDC).
The SCA shall be composed of SRA-accredited representatives from participating and/or concerned sectors, and shall be consulted on the revision of SIDA Implementing Rules and Regulations and the promulgation of policies and regulations directly affecting the industry.
On the other hand, the SIDC shall be composed of industry experts and reputable stakeholder institutions (and consultants when allowed and necessary) under the direction of SRA, to review and assist in the formulation of Plans, Programs, Policies and Industry Development Strategies. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)