DA chief defends importation 200,000 MT of refined sugar

May 3, 2022
Business Mirror | https://bit.ly/3kzhfbj

The secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) remained firm on the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) decision to import  refined sugar to boost the country’s supply and mitigate price spikes.

During the Laging Handa public briefing on Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar reiterated the need to import the commodity to resolve sugar shortage brought about by the damages to sugarcane crops in sugar producing regions.

SRA is an attached unit under DA.

“Well, we stand by with what we have projected and we’ll continue to mention this to the public for them to know our reasons and our justifications for the importation of sugar,” he stressed.

The SRA has released Sugar Order No. 3 last February 4, 2022, allowing the importation of 200,000 metric tons (MT) of refined sugar to address low production and increasing demand. But farmers appealed to local officials and to the DA and SRA to cease importation during the harvest season. The Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental issued a temporary restraining order in favor of sugarcane farmers.

But in House Resolution 2495, Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat said the decision of DA to import 200,000 MT of refined sugar is questionable due to its contrasting nature with regards to the DA’s own data, citing a prominent increase in refined sugar production as demonstrated by the SRA report.

Senators are also opposing the proposal of SRA and DA to import sugar, saying it will only make the sugar farmers suffer.

Meanwhile, SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica has told lawmakers that “importation is an option that may be used by the SRA, without importation possible scenarios are: sugar supply will be very tight, and prices will be very high and worse is we will run out of sugar.”

Serafica said the country’s current sugar situation triggered the issuance of Sugar Order No. 3 for Crop Year 2021-2022, saying the importation is needed after considering the shortfall on the ending balance of refined sugar.

He said 200,000 MT of refined sugar will cover the shortfall on the supply and will leave the country with enough buffer stock to tide over until the start of the next milling season.

After assessing the damage caused by Typhoon “Odette” to sugarcane crops, sugar stocks at warehouses, as well as facilities and equipment of sugar mills and refineries in key sugar milling districts, Serafica said the SRA recalibrated its pre-final crop estimate of raw sugar production to 2.072 million MT (MMT) down from the 2.099 MMT pre-final crop estimate prior to Odette.