May 23, 2023
Philippine News Agency | https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1202034
BACOLOD CITY – The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has started collating figures from sugar mills to determine the actual volume of refined sugar to be imported by the end of May amid the expected drop in production this year.
In a statement on Tuesday, SRA Acting Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. wants to ensure “the final import volume must be based on latest supply report with a provision that it should not be more than 150,000 metric tons.”
“We would like to assure our sugar stakeholders that we will carefully study supply condition before we peg the final figure,” he added.
Azcona, who hails from the top sugar-producing province of Negros Occidental, said the provision of “should not be more than 150,000 metric tons” will “include already the additional buffer volume of 100,000 metric tons,” considering the delay in the opening of mills to September instead of August this year to increase productivity.
He noted that “among the causes of a big drop in refined sugar production” in the current crop year was “partly due to shortened refining operations due to lack of bagasse that fuels the mills, caused by massive rains, particularly in Negros Island which provides more than half of (the) country’s sugar produce.”
The SRA chief cited data showing that as of May 7, only 11 of 24 sugar mills are in operation.
“We have been informed that many of them will close down by the end of this month already due to the fact that they opened in August (last year) also,” Azcona said.
He added that the sudden closure of the milling operations of the Nasugbu, Batangas-based Central Azucarera de Don Pedro also affected the local sugar supply.
Current actual production is 1.76 million metric tons, with 20,000 metric tons more expected from the mills still in operation.
“(This) is way below the forecasted demand of 2.2 million metric tons,” the SRA chief said.
Azcona said the SRA will soon conduct consultations with various stakeholders to discuss preparations for the next milling season to improve productivity towards self-sufficiency.
“Again, we may strongly consider delaying the opening of the milling season as part of the solution,” he added.
Azcona, previously the board member representing the sugar planters, was appointed by the President as the acting administrator and chief executive officer of the SRA on April 20.
He succeeded Department of Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, who was named officer in charge of the SRA, after then-acting administrator David John Thaddeus Alba, also a Negrense, stepped down from his post on April 16. (PNA)