Sugar milling to start September 1, SRA says

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) acting Administrator Paul Azcona said that the milling season will start on September 1 to ensure higher yield.

In a press conference Thursday at the SRA office here, Azcona said that delaying the mill reopening to September 1 is based on two reasons.

He said these are “higher yield in terms of volume and increase in revenue for our sugar farmers, particularly the smaller ones that we need to protect.”

Azcona issued this statement in response to the letter sent to him by the Sugar Council composed of three sugar groups – the Confederation of Sugar Producers, the National Federation of Sugar Producers and PanayFed.

The letter was signed by Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations, Inc. (CONFED) president Aurelio Gerardo J. Valderrama, Jr., National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) president Enrique D. Rojas, and Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (PanayFed) president Danilo A. Abelita.

The three sugar federations are asking for milling to start in August.

Earlier, the Sugar Council, representing thousands of sugarcane farmers from three planters’ federations, asked the SRA to reconsider starting the milling season in August instead of September 2023.

The council said that delaying the milling season will affect the quality of their crops and yield.

Hectares of standing canes are due for harvest in August, the council added.

The group further said that in June 2022, the national government urged them to start milling early.

Many sugar farmers supported the call, milling 432,356 tons as reported by SRA, they added.

The group pointed out that consequently, “the ratoon plants estimated at 400,000 tons, are now mature, and delaying their harvest to September will cause them to become over-ripe, compromising purity and tonnage.”

Last year, five Negros mills started milling in August, with two mills commencing operations on August 8, in response to the national government’s call to mill the canes early because of the acute sugar shortage.

Now, the producers are looking forward to the start of milling this August because the canes they planted after their early harvest last year are already ripe for milling.

On the other hand, the Save the Sugar Industry Movement (SAVE SIM) denounced the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s proposal to allow the start of all milling operations simultaneously on September 1, instead of the customary start in August for some Negros mills.