‘STABILIZE PRICES’ | Sugar council lauds move for direct sugar buying

‘STABILIZE PRICES’ | Sugar council lauds move for direct sugar buying

The Sugar Council lauded the government’s plan to stabilize domestic sugar prices to help farmers struggling with low millgate prices over the past four months.

“We appreciate the action taken by Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. in allocating funds for the direct purchase of sugar from local producers. We hope that with this timely government intervention, prices can improve in the remaining months of the crop year,” said the Sugar Council in a press statement on Tuesday, January 23.

The Sugar Council is composed of the Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations, Inc. (Confed), the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), and the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (PanayFed), led by their presidents, Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama, Jr. (Confed), Enrique Rojas (NFSP) and Danilo Abelita (Panayfed).

The three federations represent the majority of national sugar production.

“We thank Sec. Laurel for inviting the Sugar Council and consulting our federations in crafting proposals to address the industry’s pressing concerns,” the council said.

Earlier, the council submitted its proposal to the Agriculture Secretary in a meeting on January 9, during which Laurel readily expressed willingness to consider the group’s recommendations.

“Our federations look forward to more of this consultative and participatory decision-making process from the DA and SRA, as practiced in past administrations,” the sugar council said.

The statement said that sugar farmers hope to see sugar prices increase from a current low of P2,400 per bag to levels that will allow them to recover costs and provide for the following year’s crop.

Even as the implementing mechanics for the government plan are still being threshed out, P2,700 to P2,800 per bag prices have been floated in industry circles, it added.

The Sugar Council, however, cautions against “hoarding” of sugar quedans in anticipation of higher prices resulting from the government measure.

In discussions with industry stakeholders, the council explained it was stressed that this direct buying should only apply to newly-milled sugar covered by a Sugar Regulatory Administration Sugar Order, and not to past weeks’ production, the statement added.

“This is consistent with the government’s intent to ensure fair treatment for all, especially the small sugar farmers who cannot afford to hold on to their quedans to wait for better prices. The program cannot allow the better-financed producers to benefit more than those with less resources,” the group explained.*


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