Vice Governor Reveals Negros Sugar Industry’s Wish List for Marcos

Other urgent demands from the sugar industry are reining in runaway diesel prices and subsidizing fertilizers.

President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced Monday, June 20 that he will take over the agriculture portfolio once he takes office on June 30.

Officials of Negros Occidental, which accounts for half of the Philippines’ total surgar production, immediately welcomed the announcement.

“We hope that the long-awaited reforms of the sugar industry, including the implementation of the sugar roadmap and the full utilization of the fund of the law on the development of the sugar industry, will be realized,” he said. said Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer, who along with a majority of the province’s mayors backed Marcos’ presidential candidacy.

Ferrer gave Rappler the sugar industry’s wish list for the new president:

  • Research on varietal improvement of cane and agricultural equipment
  • Supply of complete drainage and irrigation systems
  • Improvement of road networks
  • Improvement of other logistical infrastructure such as ports to reduce the cost of agricultural inputs and transport of agricultural products

The sugar industry also wants the incoming administration to control the exorbitant prices of fuel, particularly diesel, which is an essential input for production and marketing; and provide subsidies for fertilizer inputs.

The price of urea, the grade of fertilizer used by farmers, has jumped 255% in a year and a half. A 50 kilo bag sold for P900 in mid-2020 was selling for between P2,300 and 2,400 per bag in January 2022.

The price of diesel in Bacolod City, the independently administered capital of Negros Occidental, ranged from P87 to nearly P89 on Tuesday June 21.

During his administration, the late President Benigno Aquino III signed the Sugar Industry Development Act as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) prepared to lower sugar duties. import of sugar at 5%.

More than seven years later, sugar producers have gone to court to stop the Sugar Regulatory Administration from importing 200,000 metric tons (MT) at the height of the milling season. They also filed corruption complaints against SRA officials for ignoring court orders.

Landowners and industrial workers are united in opposing the importation during the milling season which they believe will hurt them as it will lower the prices of their produce.

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What’s at stake?

The industry employs 720,000 workers in 20 sugar-producing provinces.

Of the estimated 82,000 sugar cane growers in 2019, about 78,276 were land reform beneficiaries and smallholders or those planting on only five hectares of land or less.

Over the entire territory, 423,333 hectares are planted with sugar cane, and Negros Occidental represents 53% of this area.

The industry contributes 90 billion pesos annually to the national economy, with Western Negros accounting for more than half. – Rappler.com

Rachel J. Bradford