SRA allots P66-M fund for El Niño mitigation measures

March 12, 2024
Philippine News Agency |

BACOLOD CITY – The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has allotted a budget of PHP66 million to assist sugarcane farmers in mitigating the effects of prolonged dry weather due to El Niño.

SRA Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona, in a press conference at the SRA office here on Tuesday, said the allocation approved by the SRA Board is being utilized for various projects.

“For El Niño mitigation measures, here in Negros, we have released irrigation equipment for 100 hectares of sugar plantations. We will release more small-sized irrigation units for small farmers on March 19,” he added.  

Aside from irrigation equipment, also being distributed are shallow tube wells and automated weather stations with moisture sensors, which can monitor moisture within three kilometers of the weather station.

In Negros Occidental, the country’s top sugar-producing province, the SRA continues to validate the extent of the damage to sugarcane plantations, Azcona said.  

Based on initial reports, the worst-hit are the sugarcane farms in central and southern Negros, particularly in Kabankalan City, where significant rains were last reported end of October yet.

Azcona said the Department of Agriculture is conducting a study to determine areas for possible cloudseeding in Negros Occidental.

“Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said his people are on it. They will just validate the data, they are willing to do it,” he added.  

Moreover, Azcona said that “as of this moment,” the country’s estimated total sugar production is 1.55 million metric tons (MT).

“That is ahead of what we produced at the same time last year. However, as early as now, there are mills already signifying closure. That’s surprising for us. What we’re doing now is, I asked SRA to validate their production data,” he added.

The SRA chief said that based on historical data, the milling season lasts until May.  

“Will we hit our initial estimate of 1.85 million MT? I don’t know. For now, it’s hard to conclude unless we verify the data,” he added.

In Sugar Order No. 1 released last September, the SRA estimated total raw sugar production for the crop year 2023-2024 at 1.85 million MT, with an estimated drop of 10 to 15 percent, depending on the effects of El Niño on the sugarcane crop.

Total sugar production volume was 1.799 million MT during the crop year 2022 to 2023. (PNA)