MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri takes a strong stand against the import of agricultural products, calling on the Ministry of Agriculture to stop imports during the harvest season for local farmers . The call comes after two straight weeks of falling raw sugar millgate prices in anticipation of impending sugar imports announced by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).
“First it was rice and corn, then pork, beef, chicken and fish. Now that’s sugar. If we don’t halt this untimely import program, our local sugar prices will plummet over the next few weeks,” Zubiri said. “We cannot allow this to happen. Our sugar producers will suffer from the next sugar campaign, with high production costs and lower productivity. »
In Negros Occidental alone, mill prices at several sugar mills fell significantly in two weeks of bidding: Victorias Milling Company fell P240 for every 50-kilogram bag of raw sugar, SONEDCO’s P213 , Hawaiian Philippines and First Farmers from P136, and Central Azucarera from La Carlota by P188. In neighboring Iloilo Island, URC Passi fell by P223 and Bukidnon suckers by around P100.
The Department of Agriculture and the SRA have given the green light to a sugar import program through Sugar Ordinance No 3, aimed at stabilizing prices and supply shortfalls following of Typhoon Odette.
“Our sugar growers have been asking for help to deal with soaring fertilizer and diesel prices since last year, and they haven’t heard of any intervention from the DA and SRA. Urea now sells for around 2,400 pesos compared to just 800 pesos eighteen months ago. Diesel prices doubled by P27 over the same period.
“Now that sugar prices have increased due to rising agricultural input costs, the DA and SRA are offering an import program to stabilize prices. It is ironic that importing is their answer to our farmers’ calls to mitigate soaring fertilizer prices. It will only put our farmers in more trouble and burden them with more debt.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of our agricultural sector. They provided food for us in the midst of our most stringent closures. And yet, strangely, the DA continues its pro-import policies, to the detriment of our own farmers.
“I will ask the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee to hold a hearing on this matter, as DA officials made commitments in the last budget deliberations and in open session not to import sugar during the crops and milling,” Zubiri said. .
“We should make it a policy that there is no import program during the harvest season. This applies to sugar and all agricultural products. Food security should be our battle cry, not import dependency.
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