The Sugar Council stressed it is an embodiment of unity following the claims that it was bent to divide the sugar industry at the expense of the farmers.
It is a coalition of three sugarcane producers’ federations, namely, the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, Inc. (Confed), the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, Inc. (NFSP), and Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers, Inc. (Panayfed), it said in a statement, adding that the coalition is founded on the need to speak with one voice – candidly if necessary – precisely to promote the interests of the sugar farmers, both big and small.
Ever since the effects of Sugar Orders 6 and 7, Series of 2022-2023, were felt through plummeting millgate prices, the Sugar Council has been relentless in seeking ways to work with the government, including Agriculture Sec. Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr.
It was the Council that realized that the P5 billion pledged by the national government – while deeply appreciated – would not be enough to absorb the appropriate volume of excess inventory, that in fact, P12 billion was needed if the purchase of locally produced sugar by a government agency were to have a significant effect on the market, it said.
This was the key message the Council delivered to Sec. Laurel.
“Compare that to the draft SO that has to use import allocation ‘privileges’ as a come-on to entice traders to buy locally-produced sugar at a verbally promised premium price. At the onset, the ‘traders’ proposal’ is privileged with having a draft SO, albeit compromised, while the PhP5/12B government buying program sits in limbo. So who is against the sugar farmers? Certainly not the Sugar Council,” it added.
It also said that the term “government intervention” needs to be clarified: it is intervention done by government, not by traders. That should be self-explanatory to all students of the sugar industry.
They also said that it is regrettable when the leaders of the Sugar Council get labelled as students, or “pink-minded,” just because they hold opposing views to those who propose more trader intervention in exchange for more importation. “We have offered what we think will help solve the problem; we have expressed our misgivings about the so-called trader proposal, and we now leave the matter in SRA’s hands,” they added.
“What is important, at this point in time, is that we actually start solving the problem. The Sugar Council, in this regard, reiterates its offer to help where and when it is needed,” they also said.* (PR)