SUGAR PRODUCTION as of the fourth week of May rose 1.93% year-on-year, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said.

SRA said raw sugar production was 2.06 million metric tons, equivalent to 41.21 million 50-kilo bags, compared with 40.432 million a year earlier.

The crop year for sugar starts in September and ends in August.

Demand for raw sugar declined 16.85% to 1.56 MMT.

Total sugarcane milled decreased 6.36% year on year to 21.63 MMT.

Refined sugar output fell 5.69% year on year to 775,527.10 MT.

The millgate price fell 20.07% to P1,479.22 per 50-kilo bag.

The retail price was stable at P45 to P53 per kilo.

SRA Administrator Hermenegildo R. Serafica said that there is no need for sugar imports since supply is sufficient.

“We still have lots of sugar in warehouses so if need be, SRA is always prepared to do what it takes,” he told reporters after a briefing held in Pasay City.

The government is being lobbied by the food industry to liberalize sugar imports along the lines of the Rice Tariffication Act, amid claims that sugar costs in the Philippines are too high. But the sugar industry has countered that such a measure could put millions of jobs at risk.

Mr. Serafica noted that the country can only export about 120,000 MT of sugar to the US this crop year, lower than the initial quota allocated by the US of 142,160 metric tons raw value (MRTV) or 136,201 metric tons commercial weight for 2018-2019.

“Definitely for this year, we can only ship out more or less 120,000 MT . In fact, USDA (the US Department of Agriculture) has re-allocated the shortfall of our volume to other countries, so it will still be served,” he said.

As for the proposed reduction of the funding for programs under the Sugar Industry Development Act (SIDA), a counter proposal has been submitted to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“We just have to wait for the DBM… DBM also has internal rules for utilization. They are very strict with that, especially for cash,” he said.

The proposed budget for SIDA for 2020 is P67 million, down from P500 million in 2019. The Confederation of Sugar Producers (CONFED) has said that the industry plans to appeal to Congress to increase the allocation to about P1 billion. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang