Duterte: Future is 'sweet' for Philippine sugar industry

BACOLOD CITY -- Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte vowed to aggressively push to revive and subsidize the Philippine sugar industry if he wins the election.

The mayor of Davao made the promise in this city on Wednesday, before a cheering crowd of people mostly dependent on the sugar industry.

At the same time, Duterte said he is not keen on extending the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (Carl) or Republic Act 6657.

He said he would rather relax and liberalize credit and financing facilities for small farmers to be able to contribute to national productivity.

The Davao City mayor noted that Carl failed because the government did not provide support services to the beneficiaries.

Bacolod is the capital of Negros Occidental, known as the “sugar bowl” of the Philippines being the country’s leading producer of sugar.

The National Statistical Coordinating Board said sugar remains to be the main product of the province with about 56 percent of its total land area of 7,926 square kilometers planted to sugarcane.

Annually, the agency said, Negros Occidental is producing 800,000 metric tons of raw sugar.

“We can improve this production as we are hopeful that through the government’s intervention under my administration, we will revive the glory of the sugar industry of the province,” said Duterte.

Last year, the Sugarcane Industry Development Act was passed. Duterte said he will make sure that the law is implemented according to its objectives.

Once fully implemented, the law will increase the competitiveness of the industry, improve the incomes of the farmers and farm workers through improved productivity, product diversification, job generation and increased efficiency of sugar mills.

Ironically, the Philippines is expected to resume sugar importation this year. The Sugar Regulatory Administration said the Philippines is committed to import 135,508 tons of raw sugar in 2016.

Duterte said the importation won't be necessary if the local production is strengthened and the local farmers are given the needed government interventions.

In the Visayas, Negros and Panay are the two major sugar producing provinces, while Mindanao has the provinces of Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, and North Cotabato.

As of 2011, the Philippine Exporters Confederation said the total land area planted to sugarcane in the Philippines reached 383,000 hectares. (PR)

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