By Adrian H. Halili, Reporter

LUZON sugar planters have weighed in with their own appeal for government intervention to narrow the gap between sugar farmgate and retail prices.

The Luzon Federation of Sugar Producers, Inc. said on Tuesday that high retail prices coupled with the low prices obtained by farmers for their harvest “gives rise to concern (about) our farmers’ ability to sustain themselves in this perilous time and their capacity to maintain their farm’s productivity in the coming crop year.”

The remarks were made by LUZONFED President Cornelio V. Toreja in a letter addressed to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

Mr. Toreja said the market prices for raw and refined sugar remains unaffected by the decline in farmgate prices.

“We urge the government to take a direct hand in ensuring that our farmers get fair, reasonable and sustainable returns on their hard work and provide enough incentives to continue sugar production in the interest of food security,” he added.

He said government intervention should be “considered seriously” to keep farming viable during the current crop year.

Earlier, the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines urged the government to intervene due to the continued decline of raw sugar prices compared to retail prices, according to its President Manuel R. Lamata.

Mr. Lamata added that sugar prices have declined to P2,300-P2,500 per 50-kilogram bag, which is below production cost levels.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) had projected that trading prices for raw sugar would stay at P3,000 per 50 kilo bag.

Separately, planters from the Sugar Council also urged the government to adopt measures to arrest the drop in sugar farmgate prices and “bring retail prices to more reasonable levels.”

It added that traders have been preferring to withdraw imported sugar from warehouses rather than deal in domestically refined sugar.

According to the SRA, out of the 209,408 metric tons (MT) of sugar withdrawn from stocks, 32% (66,608 MT) consisted of domestically refined sugar and 68% (142,800 MT) imported.

“When there is weak demand for local refined sugar brought about by the abundance of cheaper imported sugar… it leads to weakened demand for raw sugar, which ultimately results in low sugar prices (obtained by farmers),” the group said.

SRA Administrator Pablo Luis S. Azcona has said that the regulator is seeking to impose a suggested retail price for refined sugar of P85 per kilo.

The council is composed of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, Inc., the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, Inc., and the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers, Inc.