NFSP, PanayFed oppose sugar importation

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The National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) and the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (PanayFed) said in a statement yesterday, that they join all industry stakeholders in opposing proposals for importation of sugar.

The country has sufficient physical sugar stocks, both in raw and refined form, until the next milling season starts in September, NFSP president Enrique Rojas and PanayFed president Danilo Abelita said in a joint statement.

“Once our sugar mills resume operations in September, we can start producing the sugar needed by our consumers. By November or December when all mills are projected to be operational, we can be assured of enough sugar stocks,” they said.

The two presidents of planters federations cited a Sugar Regulatory Administration report that showed the country’s raw sugar output at 2,141,194 metric tons, as of June 28, 2020. This is slightly higher than SRA’s initial estimate of 2.096 million mt at the start of the crop year, the statement said.

Adding the 2.14 million mt raw sugar production to the starting balance of 247,201 mt, total raw sugar supply as of June 28 is at 2,389,115 mt, which is 3.51 percent higher than raw sugar supply for the same period last Crop Year 2018-2019, it added.

Raw sugar demand, as of June 28, is pegged at 1,715,978 mt, which includes 1.64 million withdrawals for domestic use and for refining, and for exports to the US and the world market. This is 5 percent lower than the total demand for the same period last crop year, the statement added.

The SRA report indicates that total physical stock of raw sugar is 418,479 mt, which is 9.25 percent higher than the same period last crop year, it said.

On the other hand, refined sugar supply is 1,287,628 mt, as of June 28. This includes a starting balance of 191,110 mt, domestic production of 822,917 mt, and imports of 272,600 mt. Total demand as of June 28 is only 828,714 mt, which is 18.3 percent lower than the refined sugar demand for the same period last crop year, the statement said.

Deducting refined sugar demand from refined sugar supply leaves a total physical stock of refined sugar at 458,914 mt, which is 38 percent higher than refined physical stocks for the same period last crop year, it said.

“With these figures, we can compute that the average monthly raw sugar demand is at 171,598 mt, while the average monthly refined sugar demand is 82,472 mt. With our physical stock balance of 418,479 mt for raw sugar and 458,914 mt for refined sugar, we have enough raw sugar stocks for about two and half months and enough refined sugar stocks for five and a half months,” Rojas and Abelita pointed out.

“As a matter of principle, we have consistently opposed sugar importation, unless it is absolutely necessary when domestic production cannot meet domestic consumption. Presently, we see no need for sugar imports, because we have enough supply and because imports during the start of the milling season will bring down millgate sugar prices,” they further said.

“Instead of threatening our agricultural producers with importation, government should support the agricultural sector, particularly the sugar industry. We can produce enough sugar and other products for our people, if only government will extend financial support and favorable policies to our industry,” they stated.

Rojas and Abelita emphasized that, in this time of the pandemic, the sugar industry has demonstrated that it has been largely instrumental in keeping the economy afloat in sugar-producing provinces, particularly in Negros and Panay.

The sugar industry and the agricultural sector can tremendously help hasten the country’s economic recovery amid the Covid pandemic, by providing more jobs and services and ensuring the continued circulation of money in the countryside, they added.

“During this pandemic, food-exporting countries refuse to export their products because they want to secure the needs of their own people. Thus, it is not wise to rely on imports for our basic needs. Our government should devise programs to support the sugar industry and the agricultural sector, so that we can achieve food security for our people and self-sufficiency for our country,” Rojas and Abelita further said.*

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