NEGROS Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer is conducting a consultation with various sugar refineries to "restart their operation as soon as possible" amid the rumors on sugar supply shortage.

"There have been reports that low sugar stocks are due to hoarding, but this is an allegation that needs to be verified (and) if indeed true, I will reach out to various refineries in the province if they are willing to open their mills to refine raw sugar in order to address the perceived shortage in the market," he said in a press statement yesterday, June 28.

Ferrer also said that he is confident that a solution [on sugar woes] will be presented soon as "we have a president-elect that has made agriculture among his priority programs."

The vice governor added that while everyone is waiting for the appointment of other Cabinet members, including those that will serve under the Department of Agriculture (DA), "we have to hit the ground running and prepare for the coming crop year by ensuring that we will have sufficient sugar supply in the coming months."

Ferrer said he is elated that the provincial government is prioritizing food security and sustainability.

Meanwhile, in support of Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson's programs, Ferrer said that he will conduct consultations with various agriculture stakeholders in the sugar industry as well as rice and vegetable growers.

One important factor in the preparatory phase for all agricultural products, including sugar, has been answered by the governor through maximum and efficient utilization of water, he stressed.

"Dredging water ways to bring water to our farms may be a back-to-basics approach but we need it badly if we want a more productive crop year in light of steep farm inputs prices, particularly fuel and fertilizers," Ferrer explained.

Like other local officials, Ferrer hoped that the next Sugar Regulatory Administrator would come from the province.

Though, he would like to refer the decision to the president-elect and incoming agriculture secretary. (TDE with PR)