Editorial: Starting the milling season right-A A +A
Monday, September 3, 2012
CROP Year 2012-2013 officially kicked in last Saturday, September 1, for the Philippine sugarcane industry, more than half of which is here in Negros.
As the new sugar campaign sets in, the industry draws closer to 2015 when tariff on imported sugar will be reduced to a nominal five percent. It is presently at 28% but, by January 2013 which is only four months or 120 days away, it will be lowered to 18% and decreased further to 10% by 2014.
Third District Representative Albee Benitez pointed out during his speech at the recent Philsutech convention that fighting against the lowering of tariff on imported sugar is not exactly a fruitful endeavor. Instead of harping against tariff reduction, Benitez urged the industry to focus more on adding value to the sugarcane and all its possible by-products aside from the customary sugar.
To this effect, Benitez filed House Bill 6113 or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act to set the framework for the sugarcane industry to fully develop all the potentials of its by-products which can give the cane its added value and provide the planters with more lucrative income streams aside from sugar alone.
As Benitez and other solons from sugar-producing provinces have to expedite the passage of HB 6113, so must industry stakeholders move fast in getting their acts together to fully develop the potentials of the cane’s by-products.
In her speech during the Philsutech convention, Sugar Regulatory Administrator Ma. Regina B. Martin stressed that the basic conditions for the diversification of the sugarcane industry are present.
She cited the institutionalization of the mandatory purchase by oil companies of all locally-produced ethanol for the mandated 10% ethanol blend in gasoline and the issuance of the feed-in tariff for electric power sold to the grid by biomass producers.
The market opportunities are there. Millers and planters should bring their heads together post-haste and jointly map out the strategy how they can take advantage of these sugarcane diversification opportunities to ensure the survival and sustainability of the industry beyond 2015.
Brazil and Thailand have very strong sugar industries because they learned early on to tap the full potentials of the sugarcane. Aside from sugar which is prone to price fluctuations, they produce ethanol and power which provide a steady and reliable income sources for both millers and planters.
Filipino millers and planters need not reinvent the wheel, as they have the Brazil and Thailand models to learn from. Benitez has already filed the bill which will give the industry a favorable framework for its full development. SRA, in coordination with other government agencies, has also already set the basic conditions for sugarcane product diversification.
The sand is running down the hourglass. What more is the industry waiting for?
It should start the new milling season right by holding a meeting of equals among all stakeholders to plot out concrete steps how each can help the others realize and take full advantage of sugarcane product diversification opportunities in such a manner that each and every sector will be benefited.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 03, 2012.