UNIFED backs DA plan to import 200,00 MT of sugar

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY – UNIFED, a sugar planters’ organization, supports the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) plan to import 200,000 metric tons of refined sugar.

UNIFED President Manuel Lamata said Thursday that this will address the shortage before the harvest season starts in September.

“The harvest this coming crop year will be delayed due to El Niño, and when we were consulted about this matter, we approved the proposal,” he added.

Sugar Regulatory Administrator Paul Azcona explained that the program referred to by Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu-Laurel is Sugar Order No. 2, which involves pre-qualifying potential importers by requiring them to buy local farmer sugar first.

In an interview with national media on Thursday, Laurel said the DA will finalize its sugar order in the second week of July since current sugar stocks are expected to drop in August. He assured that the move involved consultations with stakeholders.

Azcona noted that Sugar Order No. 2 increased the price to a stable P2,700 to P2,800 per bag of raw sugar, which also stabilized retail refined sugar prices at P73 to P100 per kilogram.

“This program pre-qualified an import volume of almost 200,000 tons of refined sugar and was planned in January and formally signed on March 8, 2024,” Azcona added.

“We have pre-qualified and pre-allocated based on actual support for local farmers,” he further said.

Azcona emphasized that “we will activate an import plan should the trigger stock level be reached to ensure a stable supply and stable prices for our retail and industrial consumers, as well as to ensure that our farmers are not affected.”

“We also have to consider that the five million farmers, farm workers, their families, and people dependent on the sugarcane industry are also 100% retail consumers,” he added.

Azcona said they will meet with Secretary Laurel in the first week of July to discuss and update the Secretary on stock levels and determine when to activate this plan.


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