‘Blaming sugar farmers unfair’

May 26, 2018

Visayan Daily Star (Carla P. Gomez) | https://goo.gl/2bS1cE

Sugar Board Member Emilio “Dino” Yulo III yesterday said it is unfair to attribute the failure to deliver committed sugar supply to a beverage firm on sugar farmers, it should be blamed on the holders of the quedans.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol was quoted by the Manila media as having said that Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines had complained to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia that sugar farmers are not supplying them with the volume they have committed.

At this stage in the milling season, the farmers are no longer holders of sugar quedans, these are in the hands of the sugar traders and suppliers, Yulo said.

“It’s unfair to attribute the failure to deliver to the sugar producers,” he said, pointing out that there is barely a month left before the milling season ends.

The small planters, who comprise 80 percent, or the bulk of the country’s sugar producers, cannot afford to hold on to their quedans as they sell on a weekly basis, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Yulo said a careful study is needed before importation of sugar to meet a perceived tight supply is allowed.

The Philippine Sugar Refiners Institute, reportedly, has recommended to the Sugar Regulatory Administration the immediate importation of a minimum of 100,000 MT of refined sugar.

“There are perceptions that the supply is apparently tight but any importation should be carefully studied as this will affect the farm gate prices in the next milling season,” Yulo said.

“We need to make an inventory of the country’s sugar before any decision is made on importation”, he said.

Meanwhile, the SRA sugar order this week converting unshipped “D” or world market sugar into “B” sugar to boost domestic supply, should be allowed to work first before any importation is allowed, he said.

As far as the Sugar Alliance of the Philippines is concerned, importation is not yet on the table, Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, said yesterday.

“Our focus for now is to convert D sugar to B sugar to address the shortage in domestic production,” he said.

Rojas also said that in the conversion process, they recommend a mechanism to ensure that the producers will be given a fair share of the price differential between D and B sugar.

“In the next couple of months, if there is still a shortfall, we will consider importation, but only in such volume that is absolutely necessary, so that sugar prices will not drop next crop year,” he added.

“If and when we import, we will strongly recommend that the producers will be granted the privilege of importing so that the producers can also benefit from such move,” Rojas added.

Manuel Lamata, United Sugar Producers' Federation of the Philippines president, said, first, an inventory at all mills should be conducted, and if the country is short of sugar supply, then they will support importation.