The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has received various farm equipment worth PHP314 million from the Japanese government to boost the farm mechanization program of the sugar industry.
Funded under Japan’s Non-Project Grant Aid, the assistance package consists of 80 units of tractors, 48 units each of sugarcane planters and lateral flair mowers, and five units of power harrows.
Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona, who earlier led the inspection of the newly arrived equipment at the SRA Bacolod office, thanked the Japanese government for the assistance, which he calls a “blessing” for the sugar industry.
“This is a much-needed gift to our sugar farmers to increase productivity and efficiency. It is very timely as we just started the new milling season,” he said in a statement in September.
“We, in the industry, are grateful to both the Japanese government and our own for this initiative that will go a long way in helping our sugar farmers become more efficient and productive,” he added.
Of the 80 tractor units, 51 units will be turned over to sugarcane areas in the Visayas.
Negros Occidental, the country’s top sugar-producing province, will get 24 units while Negros Oriental will receive 11; Iloilo, six; Leyte, four; and Cebu and Capiz, three each. Sugar areas in Luzon will have 15 tractors while those in Mindanao, 14.
The tractors and other farm equipment will be consigned to selected farmers’ groups for a fee that is proportional to the cost of maintenance and upkeep.
In 2021, the Department of Finance (DOF) and the SRA entered into a grant agreement with the Japanese government, paving the way for the procurement of the farm machinery and implements.
Designated as the owner, the SRA is required to submit an impact assessment report to the DOF and the Japanese government three years after its implementation. (PNA)
NO SUGAR IMPORTS
The Philippines has a two-month buffer stock of sugar so there will be no sugar importation for the rest of the year, according to the SRA.
“There may be more, but the administration has two months or more buffer stock. We have a stable supply,” Azcona said in Filipino in a radio interview.
At least 550,000 metric tons of sugar were imported this year, including the controversial 400,000 MT awarded to three importers that were not approved by the SRA and 150,000 MT buffer stock.
For crop year 2023-2024 or from Sept. 1 to Aug. 30, 2024, the total sugar production will reach an estimated 1.85 million MT, according to SRA. If the country will not experience severe El Niño, there would be a slight increase in sugar production, Azcona said.
In its Sugar Order No. 1 S-2023-2024, the SRA said sugar production is expected to be around 1.85 million MT, which shall be quedanned by mill companies as “B” or for the domestic market.
Despite a sugar oversupply, Azcona said retail prices remained high at P110 per kilo in supermarkets. Consumers have complained of high sugar prices, which have refused to come down to the P50-P55 a kilo in 2021 despite several importations and harvests.