Negros Occ deputy governor hopes for sugar industry reforms under Bongbong administrator Marcos

FILE PHOTO: Sugar plantation workers, like these at Hacienda San Isidro in Silay City, Negros Occidental, will be among the first to suffer as the sugar industry collapses. NONOY CATUGAS/CONTRIBUTOR

BACOLOD CITY – Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer on Wednesday (June 22nd) expressed hope that long-awaited reforms in the sugar industry will be realized under the administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

This, he noted, includes the full implementation of the sugar roadmap and the use of the Sugar Industry Development Act fund.

Marcos Jr.’s move to lead the Department of Agriculture, Ferrer says, is a good sign that he’s serious about delivering on his campaign promise that agriculture will be a priority in his administration, and that will help Negros Occidental achieve food security and defeat the insurgency.

David Alba, representative of the Asociacion de Agricultores de La Carlota y Pontevedra Inc. (AALCPI), said in the same press release that Marcos Jr.’s decision “strongly shows the importance he places on food safety. and poverty reduction”.

“Under your able leadership (Marcos), we believe we can transform Philippine agriculture and over time make it less dependent on imports,” Alba said.

“We in the sugar industry have been unfairly labeled a declining industry. But we are confident that with you at the helm, we can achieve self-sufficiency and even become a net exporter of agricultural products,” he added.

Alba said they looked forward to working with the new president to rebuild the agricultural sector.

“We worked on plans for decades to improve productivity, but it was never realized because previous administrations or the Cabinet members they appointed failed to understand that agriculture is vital to nation building,” he said.

“With President Marcos making this his priority agenda, hope for our thousands of farmers and the millions of their dependents has been rekindled and we are grateful and committed to helping him achieve it.” , added Alba.

The AALCPI has over 11,000 sugar-producing members in Negros alone.

Meanwhile, the National Congress of Sugar Industry Unions of the Philippines (NACUSIP) said it was too early to judge Marcos Jr.’s competence and ability as agriculture secretary.

“We cannot say at this stage that he will be the best or the worst agriculture secretary. He must be given the benefit of the doubt like what has been given to his predecessors. There is no pill magic to solve the current problems that affect the agricultural sector [especially] the sugar industry. Even the so-called agriculture bureaucrats and technocrats have failed in the past,” said NACUSIP National President Roland de la Cruz.

The agricultural sector, including the sugar industry recently, has suffered threats from different fronts such as the liberalization of sugar imports, smuggling, high costs of fuel and agricultural tools, high cost of fertilizers and other factors that affect production, among others.

NACUSIP asks Marcos Jr. to appoint Sugar Regulatory Administration officials who represent the interests of sugar industry stakeholders and meet the needs of the vast majority of sugar land reform beneficiaries, sugar producers sugar, agricultural workers, factory workers, planters and millers.

The sugar industry needs government support to provide fuel and fertilizer subsidies and financial incentives to sugar ARBs, farmers and planters as well as sugar mills to increase capacity and efficiency to reduce the cost of sugar production, De la Cruz said.

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Rachel J. Bradford