Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri tasked Tatak Kalamay yesterday to spearhead a multi-sectoral sugar summit after the holidays to concretize plans and proposals that will improve efficiency of both the farms and the mills and increase productivity as one measure to avoid liberalizing the sugar industry.
"I am one with you and for as long as I am here in the Senate I will always help the industry, but something must be done as well and is time to confront and address these issues," Zubiri told SRA board member Dino Yulo and Tatak Kalamay convenors Raymond Montinola, Gerardo Locsin and Dave Alba, who visited the Senate to thank the senators for their overwhelming support to the resolution opposing the liberalization of sugar importation.
Zubiri noted that producers, millers and traders have different concerns and may sometimes even differ in their positions but he said "I want a holistic approach to addressing the various issues as we may not always be able to stop the call to liberalize especially if sugar prices become prohibitive and we still cannot meet the domestic demands."
Yulo said he welcomes the idea and will propose SRA's participation in the summit and will go around more than 20 sugar producing provinces to ensure that everyone is well represented.
Montinola, on the other hand, said that while the task is "daunting, we agree with the senator that concrete actions must be taken and government participation and support must be strengthened if we want our industry to survive."
He also added that they will push for the restitution of the SIDA fundin Congress as "the industry will all the more need that to realize these programs that will make us more efficient and globally competitive."
Locsin told Zubiri that among Tatak Kalamay's plans is "mobilizing successful farmers to mentor other farmers and teach them best practices that can help improve their productivity."
“We've already identified planters who are willing to do this Big Brother mentoring program and we hope to replicate this in all sugar provinces where Tatak Kalamay is present,” Locsin said.
Meanwhile, Alba said that the economic managers can be of help to the industry if they "liberalize farm inputs, particularly fertilizers and implements, because in so doing, we lower production cost and we can do more to work towards mechanization."
TK convenors yesterday also met with Sen. Franklin Drilon to thank him for his support.*
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