Buy directly from producers to stem sugar price dip – lawmaker

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – A Negros Occidental lawmaker joined the call of different sugar producer groups for the national government to act on the continued decline of the price of sugar.

“I join the call for national intervention to abate the downtrend of sugar prices,” said 5th district Rep. Dino Yulo in a press statement issued on December 15, 2023.

Yulo, who is himself a sugar planter further said, “We need to help our sugar producers immediately, especially our small farmers that comprise 80 percent of the sugar industry, as the past weeks have taken its toll on them and it’s heartbreaking to see them suffer during this Christmas season.”

He added that one option to stop the downtrend in prices is for the government to start buying sugar directly from the producers, “at a price that will give them some margin of profit from their losses since sugar price went below production cost.”

Yulo pointed out that this has been done before when the government ordered the NFA to buy palay directly from the farmers.

“We can do the same for the sugar industry until prices stabilize,” he stressed.

Moreover, the government can sell this sugar directly to the consumers to bring down retail prices as well which have not gone down despite the low mill gate prices in the past few weeks, Yulo added.

He lamented that “the current price has seen a loss of at least P40,000 per hectare and with most small farmers owning between 1-3 hectares, the low price has been hurting them most.”

Earlier, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters president Enrique D. Rojas joined the call for the national government to act on the continued decline of the price of sugar.

“We urge the national government’s immediate intervention to stop the decline in sugar prices afflicting our farmers,” said Rojas.

For the past several weeks, our sugar farmers have been suffering from price levels of P2,500 per bag, which is not commensurate to the financial resources, hard work and risks that farmers invest into their farms,” Rojas lamented.

Millgate sugar prices should be at the P3,000-P3,500 level to reflect current retail prices of P85.00 to P100.00 per kilo” he added.

Rojas cited the almost 70% to 30% ratio in the withdrawal of imported sugar over locally refined sugar, as reflected in the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s sugar production and withdrawal reports for Crop Year 2023-2024.

“Government should properly manage the sugar supply and demand situation, giving preference to locally produced sugar. We strongly recommend that local sugar should be given first priority in the market, before allowing the withdrawal of imported sugar, which was intended originally to fill last crop year’s deficit and act as a reserve for this crop year,” Rojas explained.

In a separate statement, the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, Inc., (CONFED) led by Aurelio J. Valderrama Jr. pointed out that traders and importers prefer the cheaper imported sugar over locally produced sugar because imported sugar gives traders and importers more profit.

This is unfair to the local sugar farmers, mostly agrarian reform beneficiaries, who are the ones providing direct and indirect employment to millions of Filipinos, according to Valderrama.