The United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED) on Sunday, Dec. 10, called for “much needed intervention” from the national government with the drop of millgate sugar prices way below the comfortable profit margin for sugar producers, particularly small farmers.
UNIFED President Manuel Lamata asked for possible state intervention from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Department of Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. as millgate sugar prices continued to plummet at P2,500 per Lkg in the past two weeks in Negros and even lower at P2,300 levels in Bukidnon, that are was below the price levels of P3,200 in the same period last year.
“This is very disconcerting because millgate prices are now at P50 per kilo which is way lower than our production costs, Lamata said.
Meanwhile, retail prices continue to remain at P80 – P85 per kilo and the farmers are clearly not profiting from the local market prices, he said.
Lamata also pointed out that fuel and fertilizer prices are also on the rise and “if this continues, we cannot sustain the situation and farmers may not be inclined to produce for next year’s milling season”.
With this, Lamata said that consultation among the various sugar associations under their umbrella has led to an “urgent appeal for the national government to intervene and buy our sugar.”
“Please help us and the 5 million dependents of the sugar industry who will clearly not be enjoying the holidays under this condition and we fear that many workers will be displaced and their dependents will go hungry,” Lamata said.
Most farmers were hoping that the pronouncements of the President that sugar prices should not go down below P3,000 will start to kick in, he said.
“We know President Marcos’ heart is with and for the farmers as he has told us so, and we are calling for his intervention on this matter,” he added.
NFSP NOT HAPPY
Enrique Rojas, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters president, also said they are not happy with the way sugar prices have turned out.
“We were expecting that prices will recover to within the P3,000 per bag level, but it appears unlikely,” he said.
“More mills are now operating, adding more sugar supply to what has already been in the warehouses since middle of this year. More supply is becoming available in the market, but demand remains the same,” Rojas said.
This is all a matter of supply and demand, he said, pointing out that starting sugar balances this crop year were a lot higher than last crop year.
For raw sugar, the stock balance was about 180,000 metric tons, which is 32 percent higher than last year. It was a worse scenario for refined sugar, because the stock balance was around 572,500 mt, which is 276 percent higher than last year, Rojas added.
“Until such time that stock balances are normalized, we can’t be assured of better prices for our sugar,” Rojas said.
TOO MUCH SUGAR
Confederation of Sugar Producers president Aurelio Gerardo Valderama said the millgate prices have dropped because there is too much sugar in the market.
“I think everyone can agree that there is just too much sugar in the market,” he said.*