SUGAR PLANTERS’ REP. Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (right) congratulates Sugar Regulatory Administration Board Member Aurelio Valderrama Jr. after administering his oath in rites held at the Government Center on Aug. 6, 2022. They will work for the interest of the greater majority to address the problem in the sugar industry, Valderrama said in a statement on Monday (Aug. 8). (Photo courtesy of Archie Rey Alipalo) 

BACOLOD CITY – A newly-appointed board member of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) from Negros Occidental is optimistic the sugar supply shortage can be resolved by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the SRA soon.

“I’m confident that the DA under President (Ferdinand) Marcos Jr. and the SRA will be able to address the problem in the next two weeks,” said Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr., who represents the sugar planters in the board, in a statement on Monday.

Tight supply and increase in demand have led to soaring sugar prices, hitting more than PHP100 per kilo in the past week.

Valderrama, president of the Vicmico Planters Association Inc. and director of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Association Inc., received his appointment from the President last week.

On Aug. 6, he took his oath before Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez at the Government Center here.

Valderrama also acknowledged that the rising cost of production mainly due to the spiralling prices of fertilizer and fuel cost is among the challenges facing the industry.

To solve the pressing issue, he said the President had stated he will explore government-to-government purchase of fertilizers to bring the prices down.

As the planters’ representative to the SRA Board, Valderrama said he will work towards the unification of a common goal and set aside political and personal agenda.

“I will talk to every planter, find out what their concerns are. My dream and my prayer is that we can unify and have one common agenda,” he said.

Valderrama emphasized that the industry must work towards the protection of small sugar producers, who are mostly agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“We need to work for the interest of the greater majority in the sugar industry,” he added.

In news reports on Sunday, SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica said the SRA and DA are looking at a sugar importation program for a volume of 300,000 metric tons to augment the supply from producers and millers.

With the upcoming sugar production and the importation, supply and prices should improve in the coming weeks, Serafica added. (PNA)