SRA: Gov’t to purchase sugar from farmers at ‘premium price’



Leaders of various groups comprising the sugar industry have sat down to draw up measures and mechanics as government gave its nod to intervene by buying sugar directly from the farmers at a premium price.

Describing it as a momentous event, recalling that it was last done about eight years ago, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief Pablo Azcona said he hopes that it will be the beginning of a unified industry that openly communicates and supports each other.

Azcona thanked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. for “keeping their commitment to help the industry, particularly the sugar farmers”.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. and SRA Administrator Paul Azcona (4th and 6th from left, front row) with Dan Abelita (PanayFed), Enrique Rojas (NFSP), Aurelio Valderama (Confed), Dr. Molly Cheong (PITC), GJ Sarrosa (Unifed), Anthony Ramos (Unifed), Rene Cabati (PASRI), front row, l-r; and back, l-r, Terence Uygongco (PSMA), Cocoy Barera (PSMA), Rodney Rubica (SRA), Alex Keying (Luzonfed), Arnel Toreja (Luzonfed), Dan Atayde (DA), Andre Corro (SRA)

On Jan. 19, the Department of Agriculture, along with SRA and the Philippine International Trading Corp., invited all sugar federation leaders, millers, farmers and traders in a meeting at the DA’s office in Quezon City to discuss how to go about helping farmers out through direct buying of sugar at a premium price, following the drop in sugar prices since the start of the milling season.

All federations, including the United Sugar Producers Federation, Confederation of Sugar Producers Association Inc., National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, Luzon Federation of Sugarcane Growers and Associations, Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers Inc., Philippine Sugar Millers Association, Philippine Association of Sugar Refiners, and groups of sugar farmers and traders helped in crafting the mechanics of government participating in buying the sugar produce, Azcona said.

He added that they also discussed steps to be taken to further enhance productivity and profitability, ensure stability of sugar supply for consumers and industrial users, better retail prices, keeping in mind that the sugar farmer is also a retail consumer.

“Bringing all our sugar leaders to sit in one table and discuss together the state of the industry has not happened in such a long time and this is a sign that the industry is united in finding a solution to improve the plight of the sugar farmer, who, in reality, is the most important link in the sugar supply chain,” Azcona said. “Without the farmer, the mills have nothing to grind, the traders have nothing to trade and the consumers and industrials will have no sugar for their needs.”

Azcona thanked Marcos and Laurel for their continued trust and support to the SRA and remained optimistic that this cooperation from all industry stakeholders will be the key towards a positive growth of the industry.

Sugar industry stakeholders have been alarmed by the continued plummeting of sugar to about P2,400 per 50-kilo bag, below the comfortable profit margin for sugar producers and small farmers. | GB