The Sugar Regulatory Administration highlighted block farming as one of the key programs that will help make sugar production in the country competitive in the ASEAN at the 23 rd Agrilink exhibition at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, last week.
Together with soils mapping, farm management, socialized credit and farm mechanization, infrastructure development and Research and Extension Services this will ensure the sustainable sugarcane farming systems in the Philippines, Rosemarie Gumera, manager 3 of the SRA Planning and Policy Division, said.
In her presentation, she said that SRA has partnered with the Agrarian Reform and the Agriculture departments for support services such as provision of farm machineries, capacity building and livelihood programs.
Out of the 413,435 hectares of sugar plantations cultivated by more than 65,000 farmers, she said, 80 percent are small farmers cultivating less than five hectares of land.
“The productivity of small farms is generally low, which is the focus of the government support services that aim to increase the sugar production and income of farmers,” she said.
These programs also aim to reduce the production cost thus sustaining farm operations and boosting the competitiveness next to ASEAN neighbors, especially Thailand, she added.
In crop year 2015-2016, the Philippines had 27 sugar mills, 12 sugar refineries, 10 bioethanol facilities and 6 power generating facilities, she said.
In the same crop year, the country produced 2.239 million metric tons of sugar, 168 million liters of bioethanol fuel, and about 60 megawatts of bio-power in the form of biogas generated by alcohol distilleries, and electricity derived from bagasse, she said.
The sugarcane roadmap supported by the Biofuels Law and the Sugar Industry Development Act mandated programs and directed appropriations to support the sugarcane industry, including the dependents of the farmers, she said.
The 23rd installment of the country's largest and internationally-recognized trade agricultural industry exhibit featured NIR with the theme “Negros, A Model of Agribusiness Industry.”*KBC
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