BACOLOD CITY – The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is investigating the low trading price of sugar last week amid efforts to maintain prices at PHP3,000 per 50-kilogram (Lkg) bag.

Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona considered the development a “bit surprising” and said the SRA is now determining what could have caused the price depression.

“I was informed that trading of sugar went below the PHP3,000 mark that we had forecasted. Definitely, none of the farmers want the low price, so we will focus our investigation on the mills, traders, and importers to see if there is some abnormality in their dealings. Rest assured, we will get to the bottom of this,” he said in a statement on Monday.

Azcona, a sugarcane farmer from Negros Occidental, raised the concern that “someone is definitely making a scenario” with the low trading price.

“We will not take this sitting down,” he added.

The SRA chief noted that although two sugar mills recorded prices “a little beyond PHP3,000”, some “went as low as PHP2,550 to PHP2,700” per 50-Lkg bag.

He said that since February, sugar prices have been at a “comfortable level of PHP3,000,” translating to PHP60 per kg farmgate raw price and PHP85 per kg for refined in retail price in Metro Manila.

“We have been pushing for the PHP3,000 price as I feel it is the fair market price. This has been echoed by the administration, as well as an incentive for farmers to plant more and be more sustainable,” Azcona said.

In Negros Occidental, the country’s top sugar-producing province and where most sugar centrals are based, two mills announced prices at PHP3,039.99 and PHP3,041.82 as of the week ending Sept. 10.

One was at PHP2,550, another at PHP2,600, and the other at PHP2,700.

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson hoped the price of sugar would rebound and stay at PHP3,000 per 50-kg (Lkg) bag.

“I’ve always said that we hope we can maintain the price at PHP3,000 per bag. We are confident that the SRA officials, who are mostly from Negros, are also aware of what the planters were expecting. Anything below that, you will have sugarcane farms just about breaking even,” he told reporters on Monday. (PNA)