SRA assures stable sugar prices despite El Niño

January 24, 2024
Manila Bulletin |

Despite ongoing dry spell in parts of Negros Occidental and Batangas, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has assured the public that retail sugar prices will not see an increase.

In an interview with SRA Administrator Pablo Azcona, he acknowledged the concerns of farmers regarding the drop in production in some large plantations affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

Despite the effects of the hot weather, the SRA chief assured there is a sufficient buffer stock for sugar, effectively preventing any imminent steep price increases.

Sugar production fell short of its 1.85 million metric ton (MT) target, reaching only 1.75 million MT. However, the industry managed to maintain a buffer stock of approximately 200,000 MT.

“We’ve actually hit 1 million metric tons [in harvest] last Jan. 15,” Azcona told reporters . “Based on the initial estimate, [that is] around 60 percent.”

Recently, the SRA chief shared that President Marcos passed the budget to purchase sugar directly from farmers via the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC).

The total budget for procurement was approved at P5 billion, which could buy 50 kilograms of sugar from the farmers at P2,700 to P2,800.

Moreover, the allotted budget would take 10 to 15 percent of the remaining raw sugar production in the Philippines, assisting farmers directly.

Meanwhile, the SRA is also seeking suggestions from farmer groups to determine which course of action the agriculture department can take concerning sugar purchasing.

“[We are] sending out letters to farmer groups, requesting initial recommendations because we are tasked to do it as quickly as we can,” Azcona said.