THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said it will delay the release of imported sugar brought in under Sugar Order No. 7 to stabilize declining farmgate prices.

Administrator Pablo Luis S. Azcona said on Thursday that the SRA needs “to regulate supply and ensure a fair price for farmers and consumers.”

Sugar Order No. 7 series of 2022-2023, authorized shipments of 150,000 metric tons of raw sugar which arrived on Sept. 15.

In a resolution signed by Mr. Azcona, the SRA said “it was deemed necessary to hold in abeyance” all applications of conversion and maintain the classification of all imported sugar as reserve.

The SRA said that it will hold on to the reserve sugar to form a two-month buffer stock.

Mr. Azcona said applications for reclassification will be suspended until farmgate prices stabilize.

Under the resolution, sugar traders were given one month or until Oct. 15 to distribute their stock and show proof of compliance.

“What is more important to us if the farmgate prices decrease (is that) we should also see a decrease in the retail price,” he added.

He said that farmgate prices of raw sugar were currently below the regulators’ projections of P3,000 per bag.

During the first two weeks of the sugar trading period the SRA reported that farmgate prices continued to decline “to the detriment of sugar farmers.” Oversupply was blamed for the easing prices.

“We had farmers who weren’t able to sell at P3,000 which was our target price; at the same time (there were) farmers groups who sold at P2,550, (equivalent to) P50+ per kilo,” he said.

He added that trading has been abnormal with prices fluctuating by P100 or more on a weekly basis.

“Our thrust is expansion of local supply to avoid imports altogether; (Imports) discourage farmers from planting and without the farmers our mills will suffer as well,” he said. “We have to ensure (more) local supply (than) we have seen past seven months.” — Adrian H. Halili