September 30, 2023

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), under the Department of Agriculture, slammed those opposing a proposal for the government to import 350,000 metric tons of sugar, saying the issue is now being politicized.
In a statement, SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica said critics have not put into careful consideration two relevant matters on the issue: the availability and affordability of sugar.
“Due to the stoking of those who consider only their self interests, the issue on sugar importation has become very political. What the detractors of importation have failed to consider is the issue on food security, in particular, the availability of supply and the issue on the affordability of sugar,” he said.
According to the SRA, the estimated raw sugar production for the crop year 2021 to 2022 is 1,982,721.97MT, which is 160,000MT lower than the actual raw sugar production of 2,143,018 MT for 2020 to 2021.
“The carryover domestic raw sugar stock from last crop year is 228,690MT which gives us a total raw sugar supply of 2,211,411MT while the projected raw sugar demand is 2,200,379MT,” Serafica said.
With the alert levels from the pandemic now being eased, Serafica warned of limited supply, alongside record-high sugar price hikes.
“As such and coupled with the increase in demand for sugar due to the opening up of the economy, SRA has determined that there won’t be enough local production of sugar to meet our domestic consumption in the coming months, particularly from June to August,” he said.
He attributed the production decline to the effects of Typhoon Odette and La Niña, saying another lull production period looms.
“Currently, out of the 12 sugar refineries, five refineries have already stopped refining while the rest are scheduled to stop in the coming weeks until the second week of June,” he said.
The SRA posed a challenge to detractors in case the country runs out of supply.
“Can you imagine what will happen if there is no sugar available in the local market for households, for food retailers, and manufacturers? I would like to ask the detractors of importation, will they be accountable when we run out of sugar?” Serafica said.
Several lawmakers, particularly senators Imee Marcos, Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Christopher Lawrence Go, have urged the DA to block the SRA’s proposal, insisting the executive needs to balance and prioritize the needs of small farmers.
“If there’s no need for import, let’s not do it. In the meantime, let’s prioritize the procurement of products needed by our local farmers, which the small ones will benefit from. Those who are having just enough to get by,” Go said.
The National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) earlier accused the DA-SRA of “planning” the destruction of the sugar industry, particularly its small shareholders.
NFSW Secretary General John Milton Lozande said the department was just making excuses without hearing the sentiments of sugar planters also suffering from the increased fertilizer prices. – PNA