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Calls for state intervention mount on plummeting sugar prices

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The call for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel to intervene as sugar prices continues to plummet are snowballing, as Negros Occidental Rep. Emilio “Dino” Yulo also sought national intervention to arrest the downtrend of its prices.

“We need to help our sugar producers immediately, especially our small farmers that comprise 80 percent of the sugar industry, as the past weeks have taken its toll on them and it’s heartbreaking to see them suffer during this Christmas season,” Yulo said.

He encouraged the government to start directly buying sugar from producers at a price that will give them some margin of profit, noting that sugar prices have gone below production cost.

At the current price, it is seen a loss of at least P40,000 per hectare, and with most small farmers owning between 1-3 hectares, the low price has been hurting them the most, he said.

Wennie Sancho, secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Association and convenor of the Save the Sugar Industry Movement, has warned of social unrest, joblessness, economic dislocation, and the eventual collapse of the sugar industry, if the price of sugar continues to drop.

Sugar farmers have blamed sugar importation for the low prices of sugar, with prevailing prices reported at between P2,300 to P2,500 per 50 kilo bag, which is below their expected price level of P3,200 that would provide a comfortable profit margin for sugar producers and small farmers.

Yulo said the direct buying of sugar from producers by the government, who will sell it directly to consumers, will bring down retail prices.

This has been done before when the government ordered the National Food Authority to buy palay directly from our farmers, he added.

In a statement, Sancho noted that while there is more supply, the demands remain the same, blaming the oversupply to sugar import liberalization scheme policy of the government.

The sugar industry provides jobs at least to 700,000 Filipinos, who are directly employed in the sugar industry production, he further said.*

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