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‘DON’T JUST BUILD ROADS’

Imee Marcos seeks full SRA aid for sugarcane farmers

/ 08:08 PM May 06, 2019
Sugarcane farmer

A farmer harvest sugarcane. (File photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos on Monday called on the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to give direct support to sugarcane farmers and not just build farm-to-mill roads.

Marcos said the SRA must work with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in seeking means to improve the status of sugarcane farmers, noting that SRA’s projects under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA) were focused on building farm-to-mill roads.

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“The annual budget of the Department of Agriculture is big and SRA needs to give direct assistance and not just build roads. Small sugar farmers need help in organizing themselves so they can get harvest and earn more,” Marcos said in Filipino.

Marcos also sought the construction of government-owned and operated sugar mills to increase sugar production and help farmers.

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She said the Philippines had been “lagging” in sugarcane production compared to its neighboring countries, which could be remedied by introducing new technology to farmers.

“Without timely intervention, what should be a sweet promise for our sugar farmers will remain a bitter reality of low harvest and low income for them,” Marcos said, adding that mills would provide heavily-subsidized rates for farmers.

“For almost two centuries now, sugar farming has changed very little,” she added. “It is time to introduce modern technology and mechanize production in order to increase the yield and lower the cost of producing high quality sugar.”

Marcos said farmers could organize cooperative farms and tap into the government-owned sugar mills for higher productivity.

“Government estimates show there is a massive difference in average productivity between small farms that can produce about 5.03 metric tons of sugar per hectare and large farms that can produce 7.34 metric tons of sugar per hectare,” she said.

The sugar mills, she said, would also provide other services, including subsidized delivery trucks, tractors, and threshers; soil mapping; and seed-introduction.

“Helping our sugarcane farmers will redound to the benefit of millions of Filipinos – both those who consume the produce and those who depend on the industry,” Marcos said.

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/atm

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TAGS: Imee Marcos, sugar industry, Sugar Regulatory Administration, sugarcane farmers
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