Nat’l gov’t to buy sugar directly from farmers

(Front row, from left) Dan Abelita (PanayFed), Enrique Rojas (NFSP), Aurelio Valderama (Confed), Agriculture Sec. Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. , Dr. Molly Cheong (PITC), SRA Administrator Paul Azcona, GJ Sarrosa (Unifed), Anthony Ramos (Unifed) and Rene Cabati (PASRI). (Back row, from left) Engr. Terence Uygongco (PSMA), Cocoy Barera (PSMA), Rodney Rubica (SRA), Alex Keying (Luzonfed), Arnel Toreja (Luzonfed), Dan Atayde (DA), Andre Corro (SRA)

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The national government has given the green light to buy sugar directly from the farmers in an apparent effort to address the decline of its price.

Sugar Regulatory Administrator Pablo Azcona said the leaders of various groups comprising the sugar industry sat down over the weekend to draw up measures and mechanics as the government has given its nod to intervene by buying sugar directly from the farmers at a premium price.

“This is a momentous event as the last time industry stakeholders sat down together was probably eight years ago. We hope this will be the beginning of a unified industry that openly communicates and supports each other,” Azcona said in a press statement.

Azcona also thanked President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. for “keeping their commitment to help the industry, particularly the sugar farmers.”

Last Friday, the Department of Agriculture, along with the Sugar Regulatory Administration and the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) invited all sugar federation leaders, millers, farmers and traders to a meeting at the DA’s office to discuss how to go about helping farmers out through direct buying of sugar at a premium price following the drop in sugar prices since the start of the milling season.

All planters’ federations (UNIFED, CONFED, NFSP, LUZONFED, PANAYFED, the Philippine Sugar Millers Association, the Philippine Association of Sugar Refiners), sugar farmers and traders helped in crafting the mechanics of government participating in buying the sugar produce.

“We also discussed steps to be taken to further enhance productivity and profitability, ensure stability of sugar supply for consumers and industrial users, better retail prices and keeping in mind that the sugar farmer is also a retail consumer,” Azcona said.

“Bringing all our sugar leaders to sit at one table and discuss together the state of the industry has not happened in such a long time and this is a sign that the industry is united in finding a solution to improve the plight of the sugar farmer, who, in reality, is the most important link in the sugar supply chain,” he said, stressing that, “without the farmer, the mills have nothing to grind, the traders have nothing to trade and the consumers and industrials will have no sugar for their needs.”

Azcona thanked the President and Laurel for their continued trust and support of SRA and remains optimistic that this cooperation from all industry stakeholders will be the key to the positive growth of the industry.