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SRA stops speculation on low sugar prices

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SRA chief Pablo Luis Azcona (6th from left) with Renato Ponce Cabati (7th from left), 2023 Don Carlos Locsin awardee, with presidents of various sugar federations and other sugar industry stakeholders, at the 69th PHILSUTECH national convention in Cebu City.* GPB photo

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) yesterday doused speculation over the possibility of lower sugar prices in the upcoming milling season, stressing that it will use its regulatory powers to maintain prices which will be profitable for sugar farmers.

The assurance was made by SRA chief Pablo Luis Azcona in the wake of reports that prices may go down due to the huge bulk of sugar that has not been released to the local market.

Recent speculations on possibly lower prices of sugar has created negative reactions in the industry, Azcona admitted.

Azcona disclosed that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has given them the mandate to “stop all the speculations.”

“The effort of the SRA is to peg the price of raw sugar at P3,000 per 50 kilo bag,” the SRA head, who spoke at the 69th Philsutech National Convention in Cebu City, said yesterday.

“This is to keep the price of retail refined sugar at P85 per kilo,” Azcona pointed out, adding that the price “is profitable for the farmers.”

Stressing that the SRA is a regulatory body, he said that all the sugar that arrives in the country is classified as C, or reserve, and it has the power to convert it into domestic sugar.

“If the need arises, we will do our regulatory function,” Azcona stressed.

He also pointed out that the country has enough stocks of refined and raw sugar.

When the milling operations started last year, Azcona reported it produced 27,000 metric tons of refined sugar. “Right now, it is 190 percent better,” he added.

“We hopefully maintain the prices at P3,000,” Azcona said.

A sugar planter himself, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson is hopeful that the prices of sugar will remain at P3,000 per bag, amid concerns that it could go down during the upcoming milling season.

“It would be nice if we could maintain the average price per bag at P3,000,” Lacson said.

If the price is P3,000, I think everybody will be happy, not only the planters, but it will also pump prime the Negros economy, particularly after the COVID-19, which will enhance the recovery efforts, said Rep. Emilio “Dino” Yulo III (5th district, Negros Occidental).

The sugar milling season in Negros Occidental will kick off on the first week of September.

In his speech at the Philsutech convention, Azcona said that the convention theme, “Gearing Towards a Competitive Sugarcane Industry to Adapt to the Changing Global Situation,” coincides with the SRA vision for our industry, not only to persevere but to thrive amidst the new challenges of the times.

While they have adopted the technology with the advent of globalization, he stressed the need for more upgrades and be competitive.

While they have noticed production declining in the past five years due to various reasons, among which is the decrease in sugarcane areas, climate change, steep fertilizers cost and other farm inputs, Azcona said it has not dampened their resolve to continue tilling sugar land, and stand resolute amidst the many challenges they have encountered.

He said that Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. “who understands the dynamics of the sugar industry,” has a marching order to go full throttle on the sugar industry modernization plan.

“I am asking all industry stakeholders to unite and let our voices be heard in that hearing so we can gain traction in implementing our master plan,” Azcona said, stressing that the SRA has been doubling their efforts in efficiently utilizing the Sugar Industry Development Act program budget for this year.

The SRA chief hopes to achieve the utilization target of at least 90 percent before the end of 2023.

Azcona added that SRA is also submitting a supplemental budget “to utilize incomes and revenues and give these back to our stakeholders in the form of assistance, benefits, and projects that are geared towards improving our facilities, services and productivity.”

He reported that SRA is on track in implementing farm-to-market road projects, organized over 250 block farms covering more than 10,000 hectares, and facilitated the release of more than P250 million worth of start-up capitalization.

Azcona also announced that 80 units of tractors, 48 units flail mowers, 48 units of mechanical planters, and five units of power harrow from the Japan Non-Project Grant Aide, amounting to around 800 million Yen have started to arrive, which will be distributed to  beneficiaries soon, to ramp up and boost mechanization efforts of the industry.

He added that SRA is seeking tax-exemption from the Department of Finance, which will save them P60 million, for use on more developmental and productivity-improvement projects.*


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September 2023

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