The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is now in the process of collating figures from sugar mills to determine the actual volume of sugar that needs to be procured from outside by the end of this month, SRA Acting Administrator Pablo Azcona said Tuesday, May 23.
The directive from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was to ensure that the final import volume must be based on latest supply report with a provision that it should not be more than 150,000 metric tons, Azcona said in a press statement.
This will include already the additional buffer volume of 100,000 metric tons especially if they consider delaying the opening of mills to September 2023 instead of August to increase productivity, he added.
“We would like to assure our sugar stakeholders that we will carefully study supply condition before we peg the final figure. But I am sure that everyone is aware that among the causes of a big drop in refined sugar production for this crop year was partly due to shortened refining operations due to lack of bagasse that fuels the mills, caused by massive rains, particularly in Negros Island which provides more than half of our country’s sugar produce,” he said.
“As of May 7, only 11 of 24 sugar mills are still in operation and we have been informed that many of them will close down by the end of this month already, due to the fact that they opened August also. We must also be reminded that we had the sudden closure of the Central Azucarera de Don Pedro which also affected local supply,” Azcona added.
Actual production in the same period showed 1,760,840 metric tons and SRA is looking at another 20,000 metric tons from remaining mills that are in operation which is way below the forecasted demand of 2.2 million metric tons, he added.
He said they will soon be conducting consultations with various stakeholders on what they can do in preparation for the next milling season to improve productivity towards self-sufficiency, and they may strongly consider delaying the opening of the milling season as part of the solution.*