Philippines: Importation blamed for low sugar price

Bacolod City (Philippines): A labor group has issued a stark warning of potential social unrest, widespread unemployment, economic upheaval, and the imminent collapse of the sugar industry should the current downward trend in sugar prices persist, reported Philstar.

Wennie Sancho, Secretary General of the General Alliance of Workers Associations and Convenor of Save the Sugar Industry Movement expressed concern over the prevailing situation, attributing the decline in sugar prices to the impact of imports on the domestic market.

Sancho cited the reported prices of sugar, ranging between P2, 300 and P2, 500 per 50-kilo bag, as being below the expected level of P3, 200. This shortfall in prices is alarming, particularly for producers and small-scale farmers who rely on the sugar industry for their livelihoods. Sancho pointed to the oversupply of sugar, a consequence of the government’s sugar import liberalization scheme, as a key factor contributing to the current predicament.

With approximately 300,000 sugar workers in Negros and 500,000 nationwide, Sancho emphasized the potentially devastating impact on the labor sector if the decline in sugar prices persists. He criticized the government for implementing sugar import liberalization without adequately assessing the industry’s readiness, calling for urgent intervention to address the pressing issue.

Sancho urged a collective effort, proposing a dialogue with the planters’ group to collaboratively tackle the challenges at hand. The National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) echoed these concerns, seeking the intervention of President Marcos and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel. NFSP President Enrique Rojas highlighted the disparity in sugar prices, emphasizing the need for millgate prices to reflect the current retail rates of P85.00 to P100.00 per kilo.

Rojas called for the government to manage the sugar supply and demand situation more effectively, prioritizing locally produced sugar over imports. The Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations Inc., led by Aurelio Valderrama Jr., echoed these sentiments, decrying the preference for cheaper imported sugar by traders and importers. Valderrama emphasized the unfairness to local sugar farmers, the majority of whom are agrarian reform beneficiaries employing millions of Filipinos. The urgency of government intervention was underscored as stakeholders fear a bleak Christmas for sugar industry workers if swift action is not taken to address the challenges posed by the plummeting sugar prices.


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