PH’s sugar output surpasses gov’t target

Published June 22, 2021, 12:04 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The country’s sugar output for the current crop year has already surpassed the government’s revised target. The problem is that the quality of the portion of the production has been compromised due to heavy rains.

In a text exchange, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica said that as of June 6, 2021, the country already produced 2.109 million metric tons (MT) of raw sugar.

Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica

This is already above the revised crop estimate of 2.101 million MT that was indicated in SRA’s Sugar Order 1-A issued in March. The original estimate was 2.19 million MT.

The Philippines’ sugar crop year starts in September and ends in August of the following year.

Serafica said the sugarcane that has been milled so far for this crop year included the ones that have been affected by heavy rains and flooding.

“Sugar purity was adversely affected by the heavy rains, so sugar recovery per ton cane was lower but sugarcane tonnage was more,” Serafia said. Also in March, SRA decided to suspend the country’s sugar exportation to the United States amid the expected shortfall in local production.

The government agency’s decision came as La Niña became “more severe than initially expected that it brought heavy rains in all sugar-producing regions even flooding in several sugarcane fields”.

Some of the areas affected by the flooding were in the top sugar-producing province Negros Occidental, particularly Silay, Victorias, and Cadis.

In April, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) here in Manila (Post) also revised its outlook on the Philippines’ raw sugar production for the current crop year from 2.2 million MT to 2.1 million MT.

Post said factors limiting the growth of the Philippines’ sugar production include the slow decline in sugarcane area and low farm productivity, particularly in areas outside Negros Island that pull down the national average.

Climate, too, will remain a major factor causing lower production, while there is the possibility of crop diversification as some farmers may decide to shift to more profitable options.

Furthermore, Post said the government’s consideration of liberalizing the sugar industry has remained a cause of concern among farmers and millers.

“Stakeholders believe that the proposed trade liberalization would place significant challenges on the sugar industry, which is not yet equipped to face open competition,” Post said in an earlier report.