BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
There is now an overwhelming call from sugar federations all over the country to terminate the existing seven percent sugar allocation for the United States, Sugar Regulatory Administration Board Member Dino Yulo said.
The call, he said, has the full support of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Association (Confed), National Sugarcane Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED), Panay FED and Luzon FED.
Yulo said the sugar federations admitted not being able to reach the targeted sugar output for this crop year.
The UNIFED, through its president, Manuel Lamata, has recommended that the SRA and the Department of Agriculture stop issuing A quedans for export to the US, in lieu of the sugar production shortfall, because of heavy rains that caused less sugar extraction.
“And we want to address also the rising prices of local sugar, which our consumers do not like,” Lamata said.
A LONG SHOT
On the other hand, Yulo said that the projected national production of 2.190 million metric tons appears to be a long shot based on simple mathematics, stressing that he already shared it with Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica as early as November, for a review and to revisit SRA’s estimates, with Negros Occidental and Batangas hit by heavy rainfall and typhoon Quinta during that time.
While he was assured by Serafica that he already ordered a study as early as October, and to appraise the Sugar board of the situation, Yulo, however, said that nothing happened.
Instead, he added, Serafica, in an interview with the media February, forecast that “We will have excess sugar this crop year which will need to be exported.”
Yulo said that the statement of Serafica was quite alarming, “because of clear figures coming from the ground which prompted me, to reiterate my reservations in my letters between January to March, because it was near impossible to attain by then the initial projected national production”.
Doing the mathematics, Yulo said, the sugar industry needs to average an LKg/TC of 2.22 for the remainder of the milling season to be able to attain the projected national production. In fact, just to be able to reach 2 million MT, the industry needs to average an LKg/TC of 1.78 for the remainder of the crop year.
But by end of February, figures showed that the LKg/TC continued to be mired in the 1.71 level, which makes it next to impossible to aim for the projected national production, he added
CONFED was right to assume that there is expected tightness in our domestic supply as figures have clearly shown and thus, called for the scrapping of “A” sugar, Yulo said.
“The handwriting is on the wall and, in fact, scribbles were already seen as early as January and should have been acted upon,” he added.
“It is unconscionable to export, if eventually, we are to import which will again prompt the resurgence of calls to liberalize, which industry stakeholders have been fighting against, knowing that this will kill the sugar industry,” Yulo stressed.
“Let us ensure first that we have enough domestic supply,” Yulo said, “Which should now be the battlecry of the sugar industry.” *