Sugar Council lauds gov’t move to hike millgate prices

Farmers hope to see millgate sugar prices increase with government’s intervention through direct buying, the Sugar Council said.

The Sugar Council, in a press statement Wednesday, January 24, lauded the government’s plan to stabilize domestic sugar prices to help farmers struggling with low millgate prices over the past four months.

“We appreciate the action taken by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. in allocating funds for the direct purchase of sugar from local producers,” it said.

An initial P5 billion for direct sugar buying has been allocated, Sugar Regulatory Administrator Pablo Azcona confirmed earlier.

“We hope that with this timely government intervention, prices can improve in the remaining months of the crop year,” the Sugar Council said.

The Sugar Council is composed of the Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, and Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers, led by their presidents Aurelio Gerardo J. Valderrama Jr., Enrique D. Rojas and Danilo A. Abelita.

The three federations represent the majority national sugar production, the council said.

Sugar farmers hope to see sugar prices increase from a current low of P2,400 per bag to levels that will allow them to recover costs and provide for the following year’s crop, the council said.

“Even as the implementing mechanics for the government plan are still being threshed out, prices of P2,700 to P2,800 per bag have been been floated in industry circles”, it said.

The Sugar Council, however, cautions against “hoarding” of sugar quedans in anticipation of higher prices resulting from the government measure.

“In discussions with industry stakeholders,” the Council said “it was stressed that this direct buying should only apply to newly-milled sugar covered by an SRA Sugar Order, and not to past weeks’ production.”

“This is consistent with government’s intent to ensure fair treatment for all, especially the small sugar farmers who cannot afford to hold on to their quedans to wait for better prices. The program cannot allow the better-financed producers to benefit more than those with less resources,” the group explained.

The council thanked the agriculture secretary for inviting the Sugar Council and consulting the sugar federations in crafting proposals to address the industry’s pressing concerns.

The Council submitted its proposal to the agriculture secretary in a meeting on January 9, during which he readily expressed willingness to consider the group’s recommendations, it said.

“Our federations look forward to more of this consultative and participatory decision-making process from the DA and SRA, as practiced in past administrations,” the Sugar Council added.*

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