Sugar stakeholders unite to address industry concerns

The sugar leaders at the meeting were (front L to R) Dan Abelita (PanayFed), Enrique Rojas (NFSP), Aurelio Valderrama (Confed), Agriculture Sec. Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. , Dr. Molly Cheong (PITC), SRA Administrator Paul Azcona, GJ Sarrosa (Unifed), Anthony Ramos (Unifed) and Rene Cabati (PASRI); and (back L to R) Terence Uygongco (PSMA), Cocoy Barera (PSMA), Rodney Rubica (SRA), Alex Keying (Luzonfed), Arnel Toreja (Luzonfed), Dan Atayde (DA), Andre Corro (SRA).*

Sugar leaders, in a show of unity, gathered to draw up the mechanics for government’s direct buying of sugar at a premium price at the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) office in Quezon City on Friday, January 19, Sugar Regulatory Administrator Pablo Azcona said Sunday.

It was “a momentous event as the last time industry stakeholders sat down together was probably eight years ago. We hope this will be the beginning of a unified industry that openly communicates and supports each other,” Azcona said.

Azcona thanked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. for “keeping their commitment to help the industry, particularly the sugar farmers.”

The DA, along with the Sugar Regulatory Administration and the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) invited all sugar federation leaders, millers, farmers and traders to a meeting at the DA’s office to discuss how to go about helping farmers through direct buying of sugar at a premium price following the drop in sugar prices since the start of the milling season, he said.

The United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines, Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations Inc., National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, Luzon Federation of Sugar Producers, Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers, the Philippine Sugar Millers Association, the Philippine Association of Sugar Refiners and other sugar farmers and traders helped in crafting the mechanics for governments direct buying of sugar, a press statement from SRA said.

“We also discussed steps to be taken to further enhance productivity and profitability, ensure stability of sugar supply for consumers and industrial users, better retail prices and keeping in mind that the sugar farmer is also a retail consumer,” Azcona said.

“Bringing all our sugar leaders to sit in one table and discuss together the state of the industry has not happened in such a long time and this is a sign that the industry is united in finding a solution to improve the plight of the sugar farmer, who, in reality, is the most important link in the sugar supply chain,” he said, stressing that, “without the farmer, the mills have nothing to grind, the traders have nothing to trade and the consumers and industrials will have no sugar for their needs.”

Azcona also thanked Marcos and Laurel for their continued trust and support to SRA.

He remains optimistic that this cooperation from all industry stakeholders will be the key towards a positive growth of the industry, Azcona said.*

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