SUGAR production for crop year 2010-2011 is expected to be lower than this crop year’s 1.97 million mt but the constriction in supply is eyed to set the fundamentals for favorable sugar prices.

During the Joint Board of Directors and General Assembly Meeting of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) Wednesday, Archimedes Amarra, member of the Sugar Board and executive director of the Philippine Sugar Millers Association, said that production for the next crop year will be only 1.87 million mt, based on the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) preliminary estimate.

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Amarra was in Bacolod upon the invitation of NFSP president Enrique D. Rojas to enlighten NFSP members on the actual state of affairs of the industry during NFSP’s regular board of directors and general assembly meeting. Also present were Gen. Joel Goltiao, head of the Sugar Anti-Smuggling Office and Jack Alonso, the officer-in-charge of the Sugar Master Plan Foundation.

“We make it a point to keep our members well-informed on the latest happenings in the sugar industry,” Rojas stated.

The approximately 100,000 mt drop in production is projected to come from Negros, Amarra further revealed. He attributed the lower production estimate to the adverse effects of the extended dry season which stunted the growth of sugarcane and forced sugar producers to replant their crops.

Some producers are still replanting their crops as of this month, Amarra said. He also cited the unprecedented increase in the price of cane points, which reached P12,000 per lacsa (10,000 pieces) in Batangas. Negros prices are in the neighborhood of P4,000 per lacsa but cane points in Bukidnon sell for P6,000 per lacsa, Amarra reported.

The delayed maturity of the canes due to the very long dry spell will result to the late opening of the next milling season. Though some producers may opt to harvest their canes by September to enjoy expected favorable prices, they may experience a lower sugar recovery from the “not so mature” canes.

To accommodate the early millers, Amarra conceded that some mills in Negros might start milling by September but he stressed that the volume of production might not be much.

“Due to the late maturity of the canes, it might still be by December or early next year that sugar production can really go full swing,” he said.

That’s the rationale behind the industry’s move to import an additional 150,000 mt of sugar to ensure that the country will have sufficient domestic supply until such time that milling operations normalize, Amarra explained.

Hopefully, the tight supply will set the fundamentals for favorable sugar prices next crop year, he concluded. (Butch Bacaoco)