Negros Occidental needs to prepare for a possible crisis that will affect workers with the drop in millgate sugar prices, former governor Rafael Coscolluela said yesterday.
Coscolluela, who is a consultant of the provincial government and former Sugar Regulatory Administrator, said he is preparing a memorandum for Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. that recommends adopting measures to prepare for a possible crisis.
Millgate sugar prices have dropped to a low of P1,100 per Lkg., he noted.
Coscolluela said his apprehension is due to the low prices of sugar and the increasing cost of production, planters will reduce their cost that will include cutting down on labor.
“When planters cut down on expense, the first to suffer will be the farm workers,” Coscolluela said, adding that he is hoping he is wrong.
Sugar prices have dropped because of the big stock carryover of about three to four monthssupply from the last crop year, the claimed continued smuggling of refined sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup, and the worldwide trend against sugar, Coscolluela said.
He alsosaid all sugar producing countries are affected by the growing pressure against the continuing over consumption of sugar, which is causing a downward trend in sales.
The sugar industry will have to counter the campaign against sugar over the health issue, he said.
“It's unfair to blame sugar as the sole cause of obesity and diabetes because in the Philippines there is also a big consumption of carbohydrates, especially rice,” Coscolluela added.
“The sugar industry should be campaigning for proper consumption of sugar because it is still an important source of energy,” he said.
One solution to the current problem is to increase the use of the country's sugar production for ethanol, to remove the excess sugar from the local market, Coscolluela said.
But the ethanol and sugar industry people need to negotiate on an acceptable price, he added.
Research and development is also needed to find other uses for sugarcane, he said.
Unfortunately, in the Philippine, very little money is placed on research and development, he said.
A search for technology existing elsewhere may be faster, he added.
Coscolluela also said the problem with the sugar industry is it has no control over the marketing of its produce.
So while millgate prices are low the retail price of sugar remains the same, which is matter the Department of Trade and Industry should look into, he said.
He tends to suspect there is acartel manipulating prices, Coscolluela said.
The tax on sugar sweetened beverages is another nail in the coffin of the sugar industry, he added.*CPG
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