SUGAR producers in the country are encouraged to invest in better technologies to increase sugar production amid challenges the industry is facing like climate change, sugar farm conversion to commercial use and the entry of smuggled sugar.
“The sugar industry is very well-protected now. We have robust expectations for the industry. Technology-wise, we are improving and also on power co-generation, where the profit of the company doesn’t rely mainly on sugar centrals anymore but also on co-generation,” said Eric Ngo, sales manager of Mandaue City-based Dynamic Castings, manufacturer of non-ferrous metal castings.
The company is widely known in the marine industry for its marine propellers and the sugar industry for its bearing that functions as spare parts for sugar mill equipment. Dynamic Castings products are exported to Europe, the Middle East, North and South America, Australia, South Asia, Africa and Southeast Asia.
The sugarcane industry in the Philippines has grown into a multi-product industry with sugar, bioethanol, and power as its major products.
The Philippines is the world’s eighth-largest sugarcane producer and the third-largest US quota recipient. From 2015 to 2016, there were 27 operational sugar mills and 14 sugar refineries in the country.
According to Ngo, with better and modern equipment, producers are able to increase extraction levels of sugarcane.
“Investment on better equipment or machineries will compensate the losses incurred by sugar producers, especially now that sugar farms are converted into commercial use like residential or solar power, and with the dry spell that is hurting supply of cane,” said Ngo, adding that the decline in the number of laborers joining the force in the sugarcane industry is also affecting the production rate.
“The industry needs a further boost in technology,” he said.
Dynamic Castings invests heavily on research and development and continuously updates its equipment, machinery and facilities. It has its own laboratory that houses modern testing and calibrating equipment that tests each product’s physical properties and chemical composition.
He added that the use of modern equipment in sugar milling steps up the country’s standing in terms of production. According to Ngo, this will help the industry become more competitive with its ASEAN counterparts, like Thailand.
Production of sugar from 2015 to 2016, according to the Sugar Regulatory Administration, was affected by the prolonged El Niño, which may bring down production to a range of 2.15 to 2.20 million metric tons.
A report said the Philippines will allow an additional 100,000 tons of raw or refined sugar imports, potentially from Thailand after dry spell affected the local output. This is the first time the country is importing sugar after six years to boost local supply.