Bongbong Marcos OKs more sugar importation
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has approved the additional importation of sugar following the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) recommendation to stabilize the price and boost the country’s stock, Malacañang said Monday.
According to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), Marcos approved during a meeting with SRA headed by acting administrator Pablo Luis Azcona and Board Member Ma. Mitzi Mangwang, representing millers.
“We agreed to additional importation of sugar to stabilize the prices. The maximum amount will be 150,000 MT but probably less,” Marcos said after the meeting, as quoted by the PCO.
Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, and SRA Board Secretary Rodney Rubrica were also present.
“The exact amount will be determined once we have determined the exact amount of supply, which will come at the end of this month,” the President added.
He said the government is opening the importation of sugar to all traders.
Citing the SRA forecast inventory, PCO said the country would have a negative ending stock of 552,835 MT by the end of August 2023, the end of the milling season, and importation of another 100,000 MT to 150,000 MT of sugar is necessary to avert a shortfall.
As of May 7, 2023, the country has a sufficient raw sugar supply with a beginning stock of 160,000 MT.
However, PCO said the country will still need to import an additional 100,000 to 150,000 MT of sugar by this year because of the expected local production of 2.4 million MT and the 440,000 MT allowed to be imported under SO No. 6, s. 2022-2023, as well as the 64,050 MT under the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) mechanism, will not be able to cover the 3.1MMT demand.
According to PCO, Azcona told Marcos that with the issuance of SO No. 6, sugar farmers are happy because they are benefiting from the stable farmgate price of raw sugar, which is currently averaging at P62 per kilo.
He said this is higher than the P38 per kilo average farmgate price from 2021 to 2022.
To improve productivity, Marcos said he also approved moving the start of the milling season from August to September this year.
“That’s important for the corresponding increase in production by approximately 10 percent,” he said.
Azcona said opening the milling season in September will improve raw sugar recovery by minimizing the milling of young canes.
PCO also ordered the SRA to expedite block farming initiatives to increase production.
Block farming is a system by which small farm lots are consolidated into at least a 30-hectare-block farm. There are currently 21 block farms in the country, averaging at least 40 hectares each.
Once organized into block farms, farmers are entitled to financial and mechanization support for increased production.