DOST commits support to boost sugar productivity

The participants at the stakeholders consultation*

The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) is initiating measures to help boost productivity and profitability in the sugarcane industry, Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, its executive director, said Tuesday, October 10.

The DOST-PCAARRD and the Philippine Sugar Research Institute (PHILSURIN) held a stakeholders consultation at Nature’s Village in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, where they discussed holistic and scientific approaches to addressing the concerns of the country’s sugarcane industry, Ebora said.

“We are looking at developing technologies to address those concerns and at the same time looking at policies that can be amended,” he said.

The forum was attended by Sugar Regulatory Administrator Paul Azcona, SRA Board Member Dave Sanson and Deputy Administrator Ignacio Santillana, PHILSURIN President Terence Uygongco and Director General Gina Martin, Cocoy Barrera of the Philippine Sugar Millers Association as well as representatives of various mills, planters groups and the academe.

Ebora said they also presented the different DOST technologies available for the sugar industry that are funded by PCAARRD.

They focused on possible technical intervention in terms of technologies that can be offered by DOST and what type of support can be given, Ebora said.

They also noticed that PHILSURIN which is a private group, SRA and DOST have separate research programs for the sugar industry, he said.

“As much as possible we would like to harmonize the approach and come up with one unified research program where we can maximize the complementation of efforts,” he said.

“There was an agreement to work together and we have committed some resources to make it happen,” Ebora said.

“Let us continue to embrace the spirit of collaboration not just as a means to an end but as a testament to our shared commitment to a better, more sustainable Philippines,” Dr. Lea J. Buendia, DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development, said.

There was also a concern that the supply and value chain of Thailand is very much different from the Philippines, Ebora said.

The proposal at the consultation was to study and compare the two value chains and see what possible interventions can be made to improve, he said, adding that the DOST has committed to provide support.

He also said the Philippines lower sugar production compared to countries like Brazil and Thailand can be traced to the varieties used.

Martin emphasized the role of PHILSURIN in providing good seeds to saturate the plantations paving the way for increased cane yields through the assistance of DOST, SIDA and other government funding support.

There should be a varietal improvement program that will be collectively addressed by DOST, PHILSURIN and SRA, Ebora said.*

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