By Dolly Yasa
Bacolod City – National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) president Enrique Rojas is asking Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel to help stop the continuing decline in the price of sugar.
In a press statement Thursday Rojas said he and other sugar industry leaders requested the DA chief in a meeting Tuesday for government intervention to correct the scenario which caused the drop in sugar prices.
“Current sugar prices are a far cry from the level of sugar prices last crop year,” Rojas lamented.
Prices now hover at around P2,400 to P2,500 per bag, which is much lower than the more than P3,000 per bag last crop year, he added.
He also said that the prevailing sugar prices can hardly compensate for the hard work, financial investments and the risks taken by farmers to produce their crop.
“In behalf of our planter-members, majority of whom are small farmers, we have to do something to protect them from these almost disastrous price levels,” Rojas said.
That’s why our federation decided to bring this matter directly to the attention of Secretary Laurel to ask him for government intervention to stop the decline in sugar prices,” he added.
Data from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) indicated that majority of refined sugar withdrawals are imported sugar, while only a small portion of withdrawals are domestic sugar, Rojas pointed out.
He also said that at some point, the ratio in the withdrawals between imported and domestic sugar was almost 70% to 30% in favor of imported sugar.
The abundance of, and preference for imported sugar dampened the demand for raw sugar, consequently causing the drop in sugar prices, Rojas further said.
Unless this over importation issue is addressed, farmers will continue to suffer from low sugar prices, and government should intervene to ensure that this does not happen again, he also pointed out.
Rojas added that Secretary Laurel was receptive to the industry’s concerns.
“Being a businessman himself, he understood the plight of the sugar farmers, and he promised that his office will come up with concrete proposals which he will discuss with the sugar leaders and the Sugar Regulatory Administration during our next meeting,” Rojas also said.
When SRA was planning to import sugar last crop year, Rojas and other sugar leaders recommended a conservative figure of approximately 250,000 mt to 300,000 mt.
However, SRA decided to import 440,000 mt, followed by the almost 64,000 mt importation under the Minimum Access Volume (MAV), and added another 150,000 mt importation towards the end of last crop year.
Rojas pointed out that the over importation, coupled with the bad timing of the arrival of the imports during milling season, caused the drop in sugar prices, which greatly harmed the sugar farmers.