More groups join call for gov’t action on sugar price dip

BACOLOD City – National Federation of Sugarcane Planters president Enrique D. Rojas has 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 Tuesday, in reaction to the  trading price of sugar which was reported at P2,502.88 per 50-kilo bag on Monday.

The P2,502.88 per bag price was the result of the bidding at the Hawaiian-Philippine Company sugar mill, which conducts its bidding every Wednesday, he added.

Rojas also said that other mills hold their respective bidding every Thursday, and their bid prices often reflect a price slightly lower than Hawaiian’s bid price.

“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 withdrawals 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 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.

The CONFED president suggested that the Department of Agriculture should give more importance to locally produced sugar over imported refined sugar.

Together with the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers headed by Danilo A. Abelita, the NFSP and CONFED comprise the Sugar Council, which represent majority of sugar production in the country.

The Sugar Council has, from the onset, cautioned against importation.

The group stressed that only the specific volume of sugar shortage for the crop year should be allowed for importation. The Sugar Council further recommended that the schedule of arrival and release of the imported sugar should be calibrated, so that the imported sugar will not depress millgate sugar prices.

Earlier, the United Federation of Sugar Producers (UNIFED) claimed in statement on Sunday that sugar prices have been dropping at a level that is way below the comfortable profit margin for sugar producers, particularly for small farmers.

UNIFED President Manuel Lamata asked for a possible state intervention from President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Department of Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. as sugar prices continue to plummet at P2,500 in the past two weeks in Negros and even lower at P2,300 levels in Bukidnon, way below the price levels of P3,200 in the same period last year.

“This is very disconcerting because mill gate prices are now at P50 per kilo which is way lower than our production costs. Moreover, retail prices continue to remain at P80 – P85 per kilo and the farmers are clearly not profiting from the local market prices,” Lamata further said.