NFSP leader calls for passage of Sugarcane Act

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


A SUGAR industry leader has called for the immediate passage of the proposed Sugarcane Act to ensure that programs for farm productivity, mill efficiency, among others will be implemented to sustain the sugarcane industry beyond 2015.

“We need to pass this legislation now. Time is not on our side. In ten months, tariff on imported sugar will be lowered to five percent. We need to put in place the programs which can ensure the sustainability of the sugarcane industry beyond 2015,” said Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP).

The proposed Sugarcane Act is authored by Negros Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez.

Rojas said the immediate passage of the Sugarcane Act will ensure that programs for farm productivity, mill efficiency and product diversification into ethanol, power and bio-plastics will be speedily implemented.

Rojas is agreeing to the recent call of Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (Unifed).

Ninety percent of the approximately 62,000 sugarcane farmers in the country are cultivating 10 hectares and below, Rojas said.

Rojas added that some farmers, who cultivate large farms, can survive trade liberalization, because they can lower their production cost with their economies of scale. However, the more than 55,000 farmers who depend solely on sugar for the sustenance of their families will not survive the entry of cheaper imported sugar, he added.

He said that aside from benefitting the more than 55,000 farmers and their families, the passage of the Sugarcane Act will also safeguard the livelihood of the more than 600,000 workers directly employed and the more than one million people indirectly employed in the sugar industry.

Based on Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) figures, the sugar industry contributes P76 billion annually to the Philippine economy.

SRA statistics also showed that one hectare of sugarcane farm produces an average of only 58 tons cane with a sugar recovery of 1.99 bags per ton cane while mill efficiency is at only 70 percent.

“We need funds and programs to improve our farm productivity and mill efficiency, as well as to boost our product diversification efforts. The passage of the Sugarcane Act will pave the way for the funding and implementation of these programs,” Rojas said.

The NFSP president also called on political leaders, particularly the about 40 congressmen in all sugar-producing provinces, to rally behind the Sugarcane Act and urge President Benigno Aquino III to certify the bill as urgent.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 26, 2014.

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