THE prolonged dry spell brought by the El Niño phenomenon is not only adversely affecting the Davao Region's power stability, but is also taking its toll on the production of sugar.

In a dialogue with top executives of the province of Davao del Sur, Department of Trade and Indurty 11 director Marizon Loreto found out that the Davao del Sur Sugar Central is not operating at full capacity for its sugar production.

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Davao del Sur Sugar Central general manager Constancio Galinato said that the sugar mill is only operating at about 66 percent capacity due to the shortage of sugar cane to be processed.

"At present, only over 12,000 hectares are planted to sugar cane but 18,000 hectares is needed to operate at full capacity. An additional 6,000 hectares sugar area is still needed. This is an investment opportunity for consideration," Galinato said.

However, the El Niño phenomenon further threatens the sugar mill as it has been nearly nine weeks since a reasonable amount of rain fall was experienced in the province.

"Cloud seeding can be done before it's too late. We are willing to contribute a portion of the chemical requirements for the cloud seeding," Galinato urged the government agency.

The sugar mill general manager added that their production was only pegged at 400,000 metric tons last year, a decline of 20 percent from the previous year's 500,000 metric tons.

He also said that the sector hopes that subsidy will be allocated for them by the Department of Agriculture. (CPM)