MANILA –Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica said Tuesday the importation of sugar is the best way to deal with the effects of Typhoon Odette, which destroyed most parts of Visayas and Mindanao in December 2021.
This, after the plan to import refined sugar, has been put on hold due to two temporary restraining orders (TROs) obtained by sugar farmers associations in the Visayas.
Sugar Order No. 3 which was supposed to be implemented in March will ensure that the beverage and confectionary industry will not lack supply to manufacture their products, Serafica added.
Industrial users will purchase from the 200,000 metric tons (MT) to be imported -- 100,000 MT bottler’s grade refined sugar used by beverage companies while the other 100,000 MT standard refined sugar will be for food processors, such as confectionery makers.
“As an agency, we have to look at the bigger picture to balance the domestic supply and make sure that we have adequate supply to ensure food security and thereby, also stabilizing prices,” Serafica said.
He said “Odette” damaged refineries, with one needing to rebuild its warehouse and must catch up with required production to meet the demand of consumers.
“Around 20 to 21 days of processing were lost,” he said.
DA spokesperson Noel Reyes also said during the briefer that importing sugar for industrial users will mean they will not dip on the domestic supply for the small consumers.
The Negros Occidental Federation of Farmers Associations secured a 20-day TRO in Himamaylan City on February 17 while the Rural Sugar Planters Association Inc. obtained a similar order in Sagay City, Negros Occidental on February 14.
The United Sugar Producers Federation, where the Rural Sugar Planters Association is a member, accused Serafica of betraying the sugar industry and using Typhoon Odette as an excuse for the importation.
Senator Miguel Zubiri, who belongs to a clan of sugar producers in Bukidnon, filed Resolution No. 995 on February 14 for the Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform to probe SRA’s plan.
Data from the SRA showed that the Pre-Final Crop Estimate for Crop Year 2021-2022 lowered raw sugar production estimate to 2.072 million MT, from 2.099 million MT, while the sugar refineries association revised its refined sugar production forecast to 16.748 million LKg/TC (bags per ton cane), down from the initial production estimate of 17.572 million LKg/TC before Typhoon Odette.
Serafica said they held a consultation among sugar industry stakeholders on January 21 to discuss importation. (PNA)