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State intervention sought as sugar prices plummet

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Sugar farmers, alarmed over the continuous drop in the prices of sugar, sought the intervention of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel.

Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED), disclosed that in the past two weeks, sugar prices continued to plummet to P2,500, and even lower in Bukidnon at the P2,300 level, way below the expected price level of P3,200 per 50 kilo bag.

That is way below the comfortable profit margin for sugar producers, especially for small farmers, Lamata said.

In a statement, Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), also said “that they are not happy with the way sugar prices have turned out.”

We were expecting that prices will recover to within the P3,000 per bag level, but it appears unlikely, Rojas said.

More mills are now operating, more sugar supply to what has already been in the warehouses since the middle of this year, and more supply is becoming available in the market, but demand remains the same, he added.

Rojas also reported that sugar balances for this crop year are a lot higher compared to last year.

For raw sugar, our stock balance was about 180,000 metric tons, which is 32% higher than last year, he said.

But the scenario is worse for refined sugar, as the stock balance was about 572,500 metric tons, which is 276% higher than last year, Rojas noted.

Until such time that stock balances are normalized, we can’t be assured of better prices for our sugar, he stressed.

With the plummeting of sugar prices, Lamata sought state intervention from the national government, stressing that them and the five million dependents of the sugar industry will clearly not be enjoying the holidays, under the present conditions, as he fears many workers will be displaced and their families will go hungry.

In a consultation among their various sugar associations, he said it led to an “urgent appeal for the national government to intervene and buy our sugar.”

“This is very disconcerting because mill gate prices are now at P50 per kilo which is way lower than our production costs. Moreover, retail prices continue to remain at P80 – P85 per kilo and the farmers are clearly not profiting from the local market prices,” Lamata further said.

“We know President Marcos’ heart is with and for the farmers as he has told us so, and we are calling for his intervention on this matter,” he added.*

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