Farmers ask, 'Why import sugar in milling season?'

·2 min read
A group of Filipino farmers erect house foundation at the disputed farmland planted with sugar and rice in Santa Catalina town in Negros Oriental province in central Philippines on November 13, 2008 after the Department of Agrarian Reform installed the 30 land reform beneficiaries at the 61 hectare property, ending an 11- year legal battle against the powerful political clan of Teves family who owns vast tract of agricultural land in this sugar producing province. (Photo: ROMEO GACAD/AFP via Getty Images)
A group of Filipino farmers erect house foundation at the disputed farmland planted with sugar and rice in Santa Catalina town in Negros Oriental province in central Philippines on November 13, 2008 after the Department of Agrarian Reform installed the 30 land reform beneficiaries at the 61 hectare property, ending an 11- year legal battle against the powerful political clan of Teves family who owns vast tract of agricultural land in this sugar producing province. (Photo: ROMEO GACAD/AFP via Getty Images)

Farmers' group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) questioned President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s insight that the country might have to import sugar, especially that the sugar industry is in milling season.

For sugarcane, the milling season is typically from September to May, its peak being in November to December.

“If the government of BBM pushes through with the importation of sugar by October this year, it would be no different to the importation of rice also during the harvest season that lowers the farm gate prices of rice farmers and only traders would benefit for both crops,” UMA spokesperson Butch Lozande said on Monday (August 15).

Lozande warned that the importation of more sugar would cause the lowering of farm gate prices for sugar and molasses at the expense of small producers.

He added, “At the same time, no aid has yet been provided by the present government in providing fertilizer subsidies to the planters which costs P2,400-P2,700 per bag from the previous P800 per bag last crop year.”

The spokesperson also mentioned that the government had already imported 200,000 metric tons (MT) of refined sugar under Sugar Order No. 3.

In light of the “sugar shortage”. Universal Robina Corporation-Central Azucarera de la Carlota (URC-CAC) and Victorias Milling Company (VMC) planned to start milling by Monday (August 15) in an effort to increase supply.

The president announced on Monday, through a vlog, that the country was open to sugar importation, but for a less quantity than the 300,000 MT indicated in the “illegal” Sugar Order No. 4., which prompted the resignation of then-Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian.

Sebastian justified the signing of the order in a House of Representatives briefing, saying that the country’s sugar supply was “rapidly diminishing”, based on the data of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA)

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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