THE Negros Occidental Provincial Government is hosting two more summits this year to boost the major industries of the province.
Former Governor Rafael Coscolluela, provincial consultant on investment promotions, export, and trade development, on Thursday, July 20, said a Sugar Summit will be conducted sometime in August to be followed by another convention on investments, most probably in October or November.
Coscolluela said Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. has expressed concerned on the current state of the sugar industry amid the pressing challenges like lack of labor and competition brought by the high fructose corn syrup.
Other challenges include the low prices of sugar, reduction in demand for sweeteners, and excise tax on fuel and sweetened beverages, among others, he added.
“All of these, if not addressed, will surely make the industry suffer,” Coscolluela said, stressing that Negros is very dependent on sugar as it produces about 60 percent of the total production nationwide.
The governor wants to consult the industry and ask the stakeholders to help find strategies on how to address these challenges, he added.
Prior to the summit, the provincial government will do many important work, including consultations with the Sugar Regulatory Administration, sugar workers and farmers, sugar mills, and other stakeholders in the agricultural and industrial sectors, among others.
Coscolluela said that in 2015, the province already crafted the Sugar Roadmap. However, the industry challenges are also “evolving” and there might be a need to make some changes and alignments in the said development plan.
“This summit is a very timely gathering to discuss pressing industry concerns. Are we going to diversify? If not, what should we do,” he added.
The Provincial Government is also stepping up efforts to further attract and bring in more investments for Negros Occidental.
In line with the Provincial Economic Development Agenda, the province will also host an investments summit geared towards the preparation of investable proposals for potentials investors, both local and foreign.
The summit will mainly involve local government units in the province, which already have their own development plans for their respective localities, Coscolluela said.
“Through these summits, we aim to expand and diversify the local industries making it more resilient and inclusive,” he added.
This week, the province hosted the first Negros Island Region Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Summit and 2nd National Conference on Food Safety.