BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
The Confederation of Sugar Producers said they are happy that more sugar stakeholders are against sugar importation and enjoined other industry players to be united in urging the government to stop its importation program, at least until the next crop year.
In a statement yesterday, Nicolas Ledesma Jr., Confed Negros-Panay chairman, said that as early as June, they already informed Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica that they are against any importation, particularly since sugar stock balances show that there may be no need to import for this crop year till 2021.
Confed, in a letter to Serafica through national president, Ferdinand Marañon, said their evaluation of sugar stock balance based on preliminary data on supply and demand from SRA for September 2019–May 2020, or the last crop year, showed that the figures clearly manifest a slim variance on raw sugar production as compared to the previous crop year.
With this, it is likely that the projected sugar production embodied in Sugar Order No. 1 will be surpassed substantially, he added.
He said, with high production output and a drastically reduced sugar consumption during the Covid-19 pandemic, “we can assess that domestic sugar supply would be more than sufficient to address the sugar requirements of the country for the remaining period of this crop year until the peak of the next milling season.”
The economic difficulties of the country caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that rendered millions of Filipinos jobless and effectively crippled manufacturing businesses would still reverberate in the succeeding crop year and the possibility is strong that sugar consumption would continue to be low, Marañon said in the letter to Serafica.
Moreover, he added that forecasts on favorable weather conditions from June to November will provide sufficient time for young canes affected by the dry spell during the first quarter of this year to bring about better yield for the next crop year.
Serafica acknowledged Confed’s letter, and assured them that the SRA Board will rely on a thorough study and analysis of the sugar situation prior to any sugar importation.
Earlier, sugar groups in Negros Occidental, including the Asociacion de Agricultores de la Carlota y Pontevedra Inc., and Kabankalan-Ilog Planters Association as well as those in Bukidnon and Luzon, urged the Department of Agriculture to stop its importation program, not only of sugar but all other agricultural products, adding it should instead focus on the national government’s thrust to strengthen food security.*