Philippines: Organic sugar producers seek urgent government assistance

Bacolod City, Philippines: Organic sugar producers are urgently seeking government help as their crops suffer from the effects of El Niño.

The Fair Trade Producers Network–Philippines (FTPN-Philippines) in Negros Occidental, led by chairperson Sandrico Cornelio, stated in a press conference on May 8 that drought and water shortages have caused a 40 per cent drop in crop production.

Cornelio highlighted the significant decrease in sugarcane production and quality. Network members, who are agrarian reform beneficiaries, grow organic and fair trade certified sugarcane used to make muscovado sugar, mainly exported to Europe. With no irrigation systems, they rely solely on rain, making them vulnerable to fluctuations in weather.

The prolonged absence of rain since the third quarter of 2023 has also led to losses in other crops like rice, cassava, sweet potato, and vegetables. Cornelio appealed to the government and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) for assistance, including a food-for-work program, cash aid, technical support for food security, and provision of farming equipment suitable for their areas.

Some members are involved in a farm project under the Sugar Industry Reform Act with the SRA. Cornelio emphasized the urgency of government and stakeholder intervention to address their immediate needs as the drought is expected to persist until May, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.


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