Sugar output seen to fall below target

April 5, 2021
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star)  |

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s sugar output for this crop year is likely to reach two million metric tons (MT), slightly below the 2.1 million MT target due to the prolonged effects of La Niña, according to sugar stakeholders.

In a mobile message to The STAR, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) president Enrique Rojas said the country’s sugar yield dropped from 1.87 LKg or 50-kilo bags of sugar per ton last year to only 1.71 LKG.

“Our production as of March 14 stood at only 1.4 million MT, with only several months left in the milling season and a substantial majority of the canes already harvested,” Rojas said.

“Under the circumstances, we still wish for favorable weather and improved yield, but the more realistic expectation might be two million, he said.

Last week, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) issued Sugar Order 1-A or the Amended sugar policy for the crop year 2020-2021, which now allocates 100 percent of the country’s sugar output for the current crop year, which starts in September and ends in August of the following year, to the domestic market.

This amends the previous sugar order at the beginning of the crop year in September, which allocates 93 percent of the country’s sugar output to the domestic sugar market and seven percent to the US market.

The SRA issued the amendment order due to the more severe than initially expected impact of the La Nina, which brought heavy rains in all sugar producing regions, even flooding several sugar cane fields in Negros Occidental particularly in Silay, EB Magalona, Victorias, Manapla and Cadiz.

Apart from the revised sugar allocation, the SRA also adjusted its sugar production target for the current year to 2.1 million MT from its earlier target of 2.19 million MT.

Similarly, United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc. president Manuel Lamata told The STAR that the estimated 2.1 million MT production was also unlikely to be met.

“The target production of 2.1 million is just a target. I have doubts we will hit that,” Lamata said.

Asked if there is any kind of support that the government could extend to help boost production, Lamata said the government could give the industry cane harvesters and road networks to make it easy to bring the cut cane to the sugar mill for processing. He also called for solar irrigation sets and farm tractors.

For his part, Rojas emphasized the need to modernize sugarcane farms.

“To increase our production, we want to expand and modernize our farms, but the constant threat of liberalized importation hangs over our heads,” Rojas said.

“If government can assure that importation should be the last resort, then we can expand and invest more in our farms,” he said.

Rojas also stressed the need for policies which could result in cheaper fertilizers and farm inputs, as well as soft and easily accessible financing for farm modernization, among other government support.

Last week, sugar stakeholders expressed support for the scrapping of the US export allocation for this crop year.

Yulo is supporting stakeholder groups’ calls to scrap the current seven percent allocation of the US quota as the country is unlikely to hit its targeted sugar output for this crop year.

“We believe that due to climate conditions and the sugar demand shifting to raw, it is necessary to stop the US sugar allocation in order to fill up the supply of our domestic market to support our stock balance,” Confederation of Sugar Producers Association Inc. (CONFED) president Raymond Matinola told The STAR in a text message.