THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said it expects the farmgate price of raw sugar to remain stable after starting to decline in February 2022.

“Since February 2022, farmgate prices for raw sugar have declined to P60 per kilogram and it has maintained (its price) to date,” Administrator Pablo Luis S. Azcona said in an Laging Handa briefing on Thursday.

“Thursday is our bidding day and hopefully (the farmgate price) remains at P60 per kilo,” Mr. Azcona added.

He said that retail prices for refined sugar have remained stable since February last year at P80 per kilo to P110 per kilo in supermarkets.

“For now, we are pushing to improve production; since farmgate prices are already stable, we have seen an increase in area (planted to sugar) in various places, which is a good sign.

According to the regulator’s Sugar Order No. 1, raw sugar production was estimated at 1.85 million metric tons (MT) during the 2023 to 2024 crop year.

Mr. Azcona has said that this would mainly be driven by a 3,000 hectare increase in total area planted to sugar, which would mean a 50 thousand MT jump in output for the year.

“Input costs for fertilizer have also increased. Farmers are now spending more since they are hopeful for a stable farmgate price,” he said.

He added that the SRA is continuing its block farm program, in which it organizes smaller farmers tilling one to two hectares into consolidated farms of 30 hectares of more.

“We also hand out cash assistance for their startup capital, as well as new tractors… That’s all to improve small farmers’ mechanization and production levels,” he said.

The regulator has received 80 tractors and other farm equipment from the Japanese government’s Non-Project Grant Aid.

It will hand out 51 tractors to sugarcane farms in the Visayas, with Negros Occidental getting 24 units, Negros Oriental 11, Iloilo six, Leyte four, and Cebu and Capiz three each.

The SRA also received 48 sugarcane planters, 48 lateral flail mowers, and five power harrows. — Adrian H. Halili