Producers of organic sugar appeal for urgent gov’t help

The Fair Trade Producers Network–Philippines press conference* 

The Fair Trade Producers Network–Philippines in Negros Occidental on Wednesday, May 8, demanded urgent   government assistance amid the worsening El Niño damage to their crops. 

FTPN-Philippines led by its chairperson Sandrico Cornelio at a press conference at Northwest Hotel in Bacolod City said the drought has reduced their crop year 2022-23 production by 40 percent. 

Members of FTPN – Philippines are agrarian reform beneficiaries who produce organic and fair trade certified sugarcane that is used to process muscovado sugar, which they export to different parts of the world, especially to Europe. 

Sugarcane production and quality has significantly decreased, Cornelio also said. 

 On top of this, their other crops as their source of food for consumption and other livestock have all been affected because of the lack of water, Cornelio said. 

 “As ARB’s we only depend on rain for our crops, especially sugarcane where we derive our income. Most (of our members) do not have irrigation systems to sustain the volume and quality of our sugarcane production”, he said. 

They have lost other crops, which include rice, cassava, sweet potato and vegetables, because of the absence of rain since the third quarter of 2023, he said. 

Cornelio said they are demanding the following from government and the Sugar Regulatory Administration: 

*Food for work from the government to sustain their production activities. They are now at the production stage of crop year 2023-24 while El Niño continues to persist; 

*Cash assistance or subsidy for production; 

*Seeds for other crops including technical assistance for their food security because sugarcane is a seasonal crop; and 

*Farm implements and machinery appropriate to their production areas and local communities. 

Some of their members are in partnership with SRA for the block farm project under the Sugar Industry Reform Act, he said. 

The group hopes that while the drought continues to wreak havoc government and other stakeholders will act fast to address their immediate concerns, Cornelio said.* 

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