Negros Occidental Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer said on Wednesday, June 22, that he is hopeful that the much awaited reforms in the sugar industry, including the full implementation of the sugar road map and utilization of the Sugar Industry Development Act fund will be realized under the Marcos administration.
President-elect Ferdinand Marcos’ announcement that he will also head the Department of Agriculture shows “he is serious in working on his campaign promise that agriculture will be a priority agenda in his administration, which will greatly benefit Negros Occidental in terms of food security and in our effort to wipe out insurgency”, Ferrer said in a press release.
David Alba, representative of the Asociacion de Agricultores de La Carlota y Pontevedra Inc. (AALCPI), said in the same press release that Marcos’ decision “speaks highly of the importance he gives on food security and poverty alleviation.”
“Under your (Marcos) able leadership, we believe that we can transform Philippine agriculture and in time, make it less import dependent,” Alba said.
“We, in the sugar industry, have been unfairly labeled as a sunset industry. But we are confident that with you at the helm we can achieve self sufficiency and even become a net exporter of agriculture products,” he added.
Alba said they are looking forward to working with the incoming president in rebuilding the agriculture sector. “We have worked on plans for decades to improve productivity but this were never realized because previous administrations or the Cabinet members they appointed, failed to see that agriculture is vital in nation building”, he said.
“With President Marcos making it his priority agenda, hope for our thousands of farmers and millions of their dependents have been rekindled and we are grateful for this and we vow to help him achieve this”, Alba added.
AALCPI has over 11,000 sugar producing members in Negros alone.
Meanwhile, the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (NACUSIP) said it is too early to judge the competence and capacity of Marcos as agriculture secretary.
“We cannot say at this point that he will be the best or the worst agriculture secretary. We need to give him the benefit of the doubt just as what has been extended to his predecessors. There is no magic pill in solving the current issues affecting the agriculture sector specially the sugar industry. Not even so-called agriculture bureaucrats and technocrats have been successful in the past” NACUSIP national president Roland de la Cruz said.
The agricultural sector, including the sugar industry recently, has been suffering from threats coming from different fronts such as the sugar importation liberalization, smuggling, high costs of fuel and farm implements, high cost of fertilizers and other factors that affects production, among others, he said.
NACUSIP calls on Marcos to appoint officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration who represent the interests of the stakeholders of the sugar industry and are responsive to needs of the greater majority of sugar agrarian reform beneficiaries, sugar farmers, farm workers, mill workers, planters and millers, de la Cruz said.
The sugar industry needs the support of the government to provide fuel and fertilizer subsidies and financial stimulus to sugar ARBs, farmers and planters as well as to sugar mills to increase capacity and efficiency to cut down cost of sugar production, he added.*