THE sugar industry is facing a labor crunch due to the attractiveness of construction jobs becoming available under the government’s ambitious infrastructure program, the Sugar Regulatory Administration said.

“With ‘Build, Build, Build’ almost all milling districts are affected. If you are a cane cutter, you would prefer construction because the pay is higher,” Administrator Hermenegildo R. Serafica told reporters at his office in Quezon City on Wednesday.

The agency is closely monitoring the situation, with Mindanao agricultural workers expected to shift jobs because of that region’s infrastructure offerings.

Mr. Serafica added that the massive shift to crops that are less vulnerable to heavy rains is aggravating the production problems in the industry.

In January, the agency reduced its forecast for sugarcane output in the 2017-2018 crop year 2017 to 2.27 million metric tons (MT) from 2.38 million MT.

It continues to monitor production closely for possible further recalibration of the forecast.

Worker losses and weather conditions may pose a threat to domestic supply, he said.

The SRA raised the domestic market’s share of Philippine sugar production to 93% from 85% and cut the allotment for export markets to 1% from 10%. — Janina C. Lim