SUGAR FARMERS urged the government to drop plans to import 200,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar after the domestic price for raw sugar dropped by nearly 10% in some markets.

On Feb. 4, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) issued Sugar Order No. 3, which authorized the import of those quantities, citing the need to maintain a buffer stock between milling seasons.

“Two days (after the order), week-ending sugar bids closed (lower),” planters said in a statement, noting that mill prices per 50-kilogram bag (Lkg) ranged from P99.12 to P230.”

 “(It) is evident that the ill-timed announcement of SRA to import led to a price drop,” former SRA Board Member Emilio Bernardino L. Yulo said.

He said that the 10% drop will impact the livelihoods of small sugar farmers, which account for more than 80% of sugar producers.

“These small farmers are barely surviving due to the high cost of farm inputs, particularly fertilizer and fuel, (whose prices are) increasing steadily each week and will now suffer more because of this drop in sugar prices,” he added.

Mr. Yulo attributed the drop to “the premature announcement” of SRA Administrator Hermenigildo R. Serafica.

“He knew that this will have an immediate effect on sugar pricing,” he added.

Asociacion de Agricultores de la Carlota y Pontevedra, Inc., an organization of producers in those two Negros Occidental towns, reiterated their appeal for a price freeze on farm inputs to reduce the burden on farmers.

“Since last year, we have appealed to the SRA, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) yet there has been no action. Instead, SRA released Sugar Order No. 3 knowing that we are in the peak of the milling season and this led to the drop of prices,” the group said. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson