THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has announced that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.—concurrently the secretary of the Department of Agriculture—has approved the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, partly in response to the prohibitively doubled price per kilo of the commodity due to the shortage.
“Sugar production and supply has been at dangerously low levels for months, and the situation in the Visayas is dire enough that Filipinos all over the country have been shouldering additional burdens—and will needlessly continue to do so due to lack of concrete action for the agricultural sector, which the industry hopes will be addressed immediately by the new administration,” SRA said in a statement on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
The SRA, too, has acknowledged that local supply will run out this August, and that the importation, when it arrives, will merely be a stopgap measure to an extremely complex issue.
The sugar shortage traces its origins to both international and local factors—some of which we could not control, some of which we barely do.
The war in Ukraine has affected trade routes and global food markets. The aftermath of December 2021’s Typhoon Odette (Rai) continues to affect the country, as high-volume sugarcane fields across Panay, Negros, and Eastern Visayas bore the brunt of the calamity.
The blow to the region’s agricultural production was worsened with the rising costs of fertilizer and petroleum, leading to a severely damaged industry struggling to recover, and the government’s slow action regarding sugar importation has seen the country’s supply depleted to harmful levels.
The domino effect of this crisis cannot be understated. Having the suggested retail price of refined sugar at P100 per kilo instead of the traditional P50 is more than a historical low point in our country’s agricultural sector—it’s been giving rise to one problem after another for Filipinos. This lack of supply and heightened demand will only worsen following the recent report that inflation has skyrocketed to 6.4 percent in July 2022.
“This sugar shortage is already posing a threat to food security, and soon—if we cannot revive the health of the agricultural sector—then labor and employment across multiple industries will be affected. High costs of production will debilitate the country’s farmers and the livelihood of laborers in the food and beverage manufacturing sector will be put in jeopardy,” the agency said.