Cane purchase put on hold-A A +A
Monday, September 10, 2012
VICTORIAS Milling Company (Vicmico) has decided to put on hold its planned Voluntary Cane Purchase Scheme, which was supposed to be implemented within 2012-2013.
“We are glad that Vicmico listened to the call of the planter federations who objected to the voluntary cane purchase scheme. Now we can have harmony and peace in the sugar industry,” said Enrique D. Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP).
Under the cane purchase scheme, mills will buy the sugarcane of the planters by the ton. Mills will then get to own all sugar and by-products produced from the canes, such as the molasses and bagasse.
The canes’ by-products of molasses and bagasse have become more valuable with the sugar industry’s thrust for product diversification, particularly towards cogeneration of electric power from bagasse-fueled steam, production of ethanol which has a sure market under the Biofuels Law and distillation of potable alcohol which a steady demand in the market.
Loss of ownership and control over the canes’ main product of sugar and its valuable by-products of molasses and bagasse will be detrimental to the interests of the planters, according to the planters’ federations in a manifesto published in all major dailies in Bacolod last August 31, a day before the current milling season officially kicked in.
The manifesto was signed by Rojas, United Sugar Producers Federation president Manuel Lamata, Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations president Marcelino Aganon, Jr., Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers, Inc. vice-president Danilo T. Abelita and Vicmico Planters Association president Aurelio J. Valderrama, Jr.
The Voluntary Cane Purchase Scheme will result to the abandonment of the long established planter-miller sharing scheme, as provided for in Republic Act No. 809, which ensures that the planter gets the majority share of the sugar and other by-products of his sugarcane, stated the planters in their manifesto.
The planters will be reduced to mere contract growers, as they cannot participate in the additional income, which the mill can derive from the sugarcane’s by-products, they said.
Moreover, they warned that, under such a scheme, the labor sector, particularly the sugarcane farm workers, will also be greatly disadvantaged, as they will lose their benefits mandated under Republic Act No. 6982 or the Social Amelioration Program for the Sugar Industry, such as the cash bonus, death and maternity benefits, and availment of socio-economic projects for farm workers and their dependents.
However, Vicmico officially launches its Crop Year 2012-2013 sugar milling campaign, as it begins cane acceptance today at its mill site in Victorias City.
Addressing the members of the Integrated Sugarcane Growers of Negros, Inc. (ISGNI) headed by Enrique D. Rojas during their general assembly in Bacolod City last Saturday, Jesusa Uytiepo, senior supervisor of Vicmico’s Cane Supply Department, said that milling will commence as soon as the desired volume of canes is reached.
Vicmico will utilize the “A” Mill, which has a capacity of 10,000 metric ton canes per day at the start of the milling while the “C” Mill is being readied for operation and will also be utilized when the volume of cane deliveries requires, Uytiepo added.
In the previous crop year, Vicmico milled 3.1 million metric tons cane and produced 6.4 million metric tons sugar. This crop year, Vicmico targets a modest increase at 3.2 million metric tons cane and 6.5 million metric tons sugar.
Uytiepo informed ISGNI members that Vicmico’s acceptance standard is 65 percent apparent purity for fresh canes. Canes with apparent purity lower than the standard will be rejected. As to cane thrash, Vicmico will accept only canes with a trash percentage of seven percent and lower.
She urged planters to deliver clean canes, considering that Vicmico conducts random core sampling per truck. If the core sampler drills in an area with not so clean canes, the sample might not yield a high sugar content, she said.
Uytiepo said planters should take pains to remove dead stalks infested by rats. Bacteria from dead stalks contaminate and lower the canes’ sugar content, she added.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 10, 2012.