PH gets Brazilian firm's pledge on sugar sufficiency, ethanol production

The Philippines has secured a commitment from an international firm to boost sugar sufficiency and ethanol production in the country, Malacañang announced.

Sugarcane farmers (Manila Bulletin File Photo)

In a meeting with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Monday, Feb. 6, DATAGRO, a Brazilian independent agricultural consulting firm, proposed to start pilot testing in Negros and Panay Islands using the its tech transfer and assisted management project.

This as Marcos expressed optimism about increasing sugarcane yield, which is critical to attaining sugar sufficiency and plays an important role in the country's fuel market.

"I'm very optimistic... that a long-term program to increase production and profitability in the sugar industry is possible... in the Philippines," the President said.

According to DATAGRO, demo plots of 1,000; 5,000; and 10,000 hectares will be developed to showcase modern practices of production based on Brazilian standards.

The Brazilian firm also proposed to diversify sugarcane milling operations by converting sugar in molasses to ethanol.

It explained that converting sugar to ethanol would help reduce sugar pollution and reduce the cost of refined oil imports.

The President has tasked the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) to submit recommendations on ways to push forward with the projects, which not only seek to ensure sugar sufficiency but also open the market for energy through production in ethanol.

"So we had to put the farm next to them so they can see that it works. They say that 'if my neighbor can do it, I can do it too.' And if you can show them you make more money doing it, then they will transfer," Marcos said.

"And that's what we need to do, in a sense. And so we have to demonstrate it. We have a process here in the Philippines which is called a techno-demo, which is a demonstration of new technology. So techno-demo, that's what we will have to conduct," Marcos added.

The chief executive also tasked the Agriculture department to ramp up consultations with stakeholders and check on the viability of the projects raised by DATAGRO.

"Perhaps you can give us the best idea, the best framework, so that we know what we need to do on this end. Pag-usapan natin (Let's discuss) how to develop the program... and then you have to talk to the stakeholders," Marcos said.