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Marcos approves more sugar imports, delays milling start

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. approved imports of about 150,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar on the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) recommendation, the Palace said in a statement.

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Mr. Marcos, who is also Secretary of Agriculture, accepted the SRA recommendation in order to stabilize sugar prices and add to the sugar inventory.

He also approved delaying the start of the sugar milling season from August to September in order to improve raw sugar yields.

“We agreed to additional imports of sugar to stabilize prices,” the PCO quoted the President as saying after meeting with SRA Acting Administrator Pablo Luis S. Azcona and SRA Board Secretary Maria Mitzi V. Mangwag. “The maximum amount will be 150,000 MT but probably less.”

Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin, Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, and SRA Board Secretary Rodney K. Rubrica were also at the meeting.

Sugar import permits will be open to all traders, the President added.

As of May 7, the Philippines had an inventory of 160,000 MT of sugar, according to the SRA, which estimated the import requirement this year at between 100,000 and 150,000 MT, based on estimate production of 2.4 million MT and the 440,000 MT earlier authorized for import by Sugar Order No. 6.

Mr. Marcos also ordered the SRA to fast-track block farming initiatives to boost production, which consolidates smaller farms into at least 30 hectares to improve efficiencies and streamline the distribution of financial and technical aid.

There are currently 21 block farms in the country averaging 40 hectares.

“We’re looking at increasing the budget for block farming to accelerate the process of organizing the block farms,” Mr. Marcos said.

Mr. Azcona said on May 2 that the farmgate price of raw sugar has been stable at P60 for the last two or three months, with supply improving from a year earlier.

According to DA price monitors, the prevailing market price of refined sugar in Metro Manila as of Tuesday was between P86 and P110, washed sugar P80-P95, and brown sugar P35-P95. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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