(File photo)

MANILA – The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) said sugar prices in the domestic market should start to go down by September as milling operations begin next week.

In a radio interview Saturday, PCAFI president Danilo Fausto said sugar millers have a combined capacity of 8,000 metric tons (MT) per day.

He said the importation of 200,000 MT through Sugar Order (SO) No. 3 issued in February has entered the local market and should help in improving local supplies and taming sugar prices.

(N)ag-import na tayo ng 200,000 metric tons simula Mayo hanggang July. Dumating na ‘yung mga 86 to 90 percent n’yan. So palagay ko, maitatawid na natin ito dahil ang alam ko ‘yung mga sugar mill, mag-start na ng milling by next week, so local supply will now be augmented (We have imported 200,000 metric tons from May to July. About 86 to 90 percent of those already arrived. So I think these can cover it [demand] because I know that sugar mills will start milling by next week, so local supply will now be augmented),” he said.

He is uncertain though on how much the decline of sugar prices will be as other factors, such as oil and fertilizer prices, will be considered.

The Sugar Regulatory Authority approved the importation of 200,000 MT of sugar through SO No. 3 amid the impacts of December 2021’s Typhoon Odette and other natural disasters on sugar farmers and millers.

Some 2.1 million MT were expected to be produced, but production fell to around 1.8 million to 1.9 million MT due to typhoons in the latter part of the previous year, Fausto said.

He added that about 50 percent of the produced sugar goes to industrial users, 30 percent to household consumers, and 20 percent to institutions, such as restaurants and hospitals.

As supply is expected to be augmented in the coming months, the PCAFI chief supported the decision of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to block the new 300,000 MT sugar importation.

Tama si Presidente na ‘wag papasukin ‘yung 300,000 [MT] kasi mag-uumpisa na ‘yung milling at saka ‘yung harvest eh (The President is right in blocking the 300,000 MT because milling and harvest will soon start),” Fausto said.

He added that sugar importation should be calibrated by not importing during the milling and harvest season as this will put local producers and workers in the industry at a disadvantage.

Fausto said the sugar industry is directly employing 700,000 and indirectly employing between five million and six million.

He added that some 100,000 workers in the sugar industry will lose their jobs due to importation. (PNA)