PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. approved on Monday additional importation of sugar following the recommendation of the Sugar Regulatory Administration to stabilize the price and boost the country’s stock.
“We agreed to additional importation of sugar to stabilize the prices. Maximum amount will be 150,000 MT but probably less,” President Marcos said after the meeting with the SRA headed by SRA Acting Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona and Board Member Ma. Mitzi Mangwang, representing millers.
Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile and SRA Board Secretary Rodney Rubrica were also present.
“The exact amount will be determined once we have determined the exact amount of supply, which will come at the end of this month,” Marcos said.
He added the government is opening the importation of sugar to all traders.
According to SRA forecast inventory, the country will have a negative ending stock of 552,835 MT by the end of August 2023, the end of the milling season, and importation of another 100,000 MT to 150,000 MT of sugar is necessary to avert a shortfall.
The SRA said that as of May 7, 2023, the country has sufficient supply of raw sugar with a beginning stock of 160,000MT. However, the country will still need to import an additional 100,000 to 150,000 MT of sugar by this year because the expected local production of 2.4MMT and the 440,000 MT allowed to be imported under SO No. 6, s. 2022-2023 as well as the 64,050 MT under the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) mechanism will not be able to cover the 3.1MMT demand.
Azcona also told the President that with the issuance of SO No. 6, sugar farmers are happy because they are benefiting from the stable farmgate price of raw sugar, which is averaging at PhP62/kg for the current CY. It is higher than the PhP38/kg average farmgate price in CY 2021-2022.
In order to improve productivity, Marcos said he also approved moving of the start of the milling season from August to September this year. “That’s important for the corresponding increase in production by approximately 10 percent,” Marcos said.
Azcona said opening the milling season in September will improve raw sugar recovery because it will minimize the milling of young canes.
He also ordered the SRA to expedite block farming initiatives to also increase production. Block farming is a system by which small farm lots are consolidated into at least a 30 hectare-block farm. There are currently 21 block farms in the country averaging at least 40 hectares each.
Once organized into block farms, farmers are entitled to financial and mechanization support for increased production. The President pointed out, “(c)onsolidation is an important part of agro-industrial production. We’re looking at increasing the budget for block farming to accelerate the process of organizing the block farms.”