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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Meeting sugar players, PBBM says imports market open to all

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said the government will open the sugar importation market to all traders as the country is set to import between 100,000 and 150,000 metric tons (MT).

In a statement, Marcos said he sat down with all stakeholders in the sugar industry.

“We agreed on an importation schedule and how we will open up the importation to all of the traders. It is up to them to bid or give their proposals, and that’s the big change we made. we will still import up to 150,000 metric tons,” he said.

“But kapag maganda ’yung production natin baka hindi kailangan lahat iyon.  In the end, we will still continue to favor in terms of buying local production over importation. So iyon ’yung kailangan balanse diyan. Kailangan naman kumpleto ’yung ating supply ng asukal ngunit dapat lahat naman ng production na galing dito sa Pilipinas, iyan ’yung unang binibili. So that is what we also agreed upon,” added the President.

Marcos stressed the need to make the country’s sugar industry competitive in the world market in the future and will prioritize local production.

During the meeting, he said an opportunity was given to the stakeholders to raise their concerns and provide suggestions to improve the sugar industry. Most of them cited the identification of idle lands for planting of sugar, giving of fertilizers to small sugar farmers, reviving the Philippine Sugar Corporation, and transparency in sugar importation. “One of the suggestions that came up during the meeting was to revitalize PhilSuCor. PhilSuCor is Philippine Sugar Corporation. It provides financing for farmers, especially for cooperatives and farmers’ associations,” he said.

Marcos was referring to the PhilSucor created under Presidential Decree No. 1890 in 1983 to finance the acquisition, rehabilitation, and/or expansion of sugar mills, refineries, and other related facilities.  An order to abolish PhilSuCor was released on October 25, 2018, citing its overlapping functions with the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

There were also discussions on plans to strengthen the local industry, as well as identification of sugar lands to increase acreage aimed at boosting production, Marcos said.

The President, sought stakeholders’ cooperation as the administration implements its long-term plan to improve production, particularly moving the milling season from August to September that will result in a 10 percent increase in production.

To help boost local production, the government has reset the start of the milling season for sugar cane from August to September.

In a presentation, SRA Acting Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona presented the benefits of moving the milling and harvesting to September—minimize milling of young canes; better sugar recovery; longer milling period; higher production volume; better factory preparation; and fair opportunity to both the millers and farmers.

Last Monday, Marcos approved the importation of more sugar to address the expected shortfall in the local production of the sweetener this year.

The SRA said the country’s overall sugar supply this year will include the 2.4 million metric ton (MMT) produced by local farmers, the 440,000 metric tons (MT) allowed to be imported under Sugar Order (SO) No. 6, s. 2022-2023 as well as the 64,050 MT under the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) mechanism.

It noted the country’s projected sugar stock this year cannot cover the 3.1 MMT demand for the sweetener.

SRA has estimated the country will need to import between 100,000 MT to 150,000 MT of sugar to address the expected supply gap.

Image credits: Amarin Jitnathum | Dreamstime.com

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