By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Sugar planters in Negros Occidental again urged the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) to recall Sugar Order No. 3 (SO3) which resulted in drastic drops in sugar prices.
Former SRA Board Member Atty. Dino Yulo said SO3 was released by SRA last February 4, and two days later, the weekending sugar bid closed, with all mills and sugar groups losing by as low as P99.12/50-kilo bag (Lkg) to as high as P230/Lkg at Victorias Milling Company (VMC).
Yulo said prices of different mills and associations indicated that by end of January 2022, raw sugar prices were at P2,110/Lkg in VMC; P1,981 in APSSI Hawaian and AHSSI Hawaian; P1,973 for First Farmers; P1,920 at Lopez Sugar Central; P1,898 for AALCPI-URC La Carlota; P1,885 for BIPA-Biscom and P1,865 for SONEDCO (Kabilog).
By Feb 6, two days after the announcement of SO3, sugar prices at VMC dropped to P1,880 or a difference of P230/Lkg followed by BIPA-Biscom by P150; ALCCPI-URC La Carlota by P145; Lopez Sugar Central by P140; SONEDCO (Kabilog) by P130; AAHSI-Hawaian and First Farmers by a little over P121 while APSSI-Hawaian suffered a drop of P99.12, Yulo added.
The drop in sugar prices is due to the “the premature announcement” of SRA Administrator Hermenigildo Serafica, adding that “in most cases he knew that this would have an immediate effect on sugar pricing,” Yulo said.
Yulo added that a drop by as much as 10 percent has a huge impact on the livelihood of small sugar farmers that comprises more than 80 percent of sugar producers.
“These small farmers are barely surviving due to the high cost of farm inputs, particularly fertilizers and fuel that has been increasing steadily each week and will now suffer more because of this drop in sugar prices,” he said.
Associacion de Agricultores de la Carlota y Pontevedra Inc. (AALCPI), the biggest independent sugar group in the country with over 10,000 planter-members who are mostly small planters, decried the results of the sugar bidding last weekend as artificially driven down by the announcement of SO3.
AALCPI President Roberto Cuenca said they are hard-pressed to explain to their members the results of the sugar bidding last week, vis-à-vis their members’ request for SRA to act on their appeal for a price freeze on farm inputs.
“This made the situation worse because since last year, we have appealed to the SRA, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) yet there has been no action. Instead, SRA released SO3 knowing that we are in the peak of the milling season, and this led to the drop of prices,” Cuenca added.
Earlier, other sugar planters also called on SRA to recall SO3.