SRA orders sampling of canes, land due to Kanlaon eruption

HIGHER MILL GATE PRICES. A cane truck on the way to a sugar mill in Silay City, Negros Occidental in this file photo. The biggest independent sugar group in the country, the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED), in a statement on Tuesday (March 19, 2024) said they are thankful that “prices have gone up to the level that farmers are comfortable with.”
HIGHER MILL GATE PRICES. A cane truck on the way to a sugar mill in Silay City, Negros Occidental in this file photo. The biggest independent sugar group in the country, the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED), in a statement on Tuesday (March 19, 2024) said they are thankful that “prices have gone up to the level that farmers are comfortable with.” PNA BACOLOD FILE PHOTO

Sugar Regulatory Administrator Luis Azcona ordered the research and development arm of the agency to prioritize sampling of sugar cane and sugar land in light of the recent eruption of the Kanlaon Volcano.

Azcona said they will need information as to the acidity level of the soil as well as its effects on canes already planted in areas where volcanic ash falls were noted.

“We gathered reports from the field of the strong sulfur smell coupled with the heavy rains in most areas in central Negros, and we know that this can turn into sulfuric acid, which may affect our sugar canes,” Azcona said.

The testing will include scraping ash from cane leaves and collecting it from surface grounds in the municipalities of La Castellana, Moises Padilla, Pontevedra, and La Carlota City, where volcanic ash turned some fields gray.

Azcona said they received reports that some farmers took advantage of the heavy rains following the eruption to plant canes yesterday, and asked their research department to immediately release the results of the test.

“We are hoping that the rain will wash out the volcanic ash from planted canes,” he added.

The general condition of our sugar cane fields is already acidic, and we just want to rule out more acidity in affected areas that can cause problems, he said.

Azcona also ordered the release of P2 million for mitigating measures to aid affected localities and another P500,000 for medical missions that will address respiratory diseases related to the incident if needed.*

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