PH sugar farmers confront El Niño despite bittersweet yields

PH sugar farmers confront El Niño despite bittersweet yields

PH sugar farmers confront El Niño despite bittersweet yields

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

Sugar production in the Philippines is projected to remain flat next year, with the rise in prices encouraging many farmers to cultivate this commodity even as the El Niño phenomenon continues to loom over the industry.

In a report, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) pegged raw sugar production at 1.85 million metric tons (MT) for marketing year 2025, which would begin in September this year.“With high prices, farmers expanded sugarcane area, but some farms with no irrigation are suffering from the ongoing El Niño, which stunted sugarcane growth,” the report said.


“Some new plantings in the past three months with no irrigation suffered from stunting due to El Niño and will produce lower yields in MY (marketing year) 2025,” it added.The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration had said Negros Occidental, a major sugar producing province, was among those suffering from droughts.


The foreign agency pegged raw sugar production at 1.85 million MT for marketing year 2024, up by 50,000 MT from the USDA’s official projection of 1.8 million MT.“Sugarcane was not affected as much as expected compared to earlier predictions of a 10 to 15 percent drop in production due to El Niño,” it said.

The USDA-FAS estimated a marginal increase in sugarcane area in marketing year 2024 as the prevailing high prices prompted farmers to plant sugarcane instead of shifting to other crops including corn, cassava and bananas.

However, the report noted the marginal increase expected for next year “is not enough to recover the areas previously planted with sugarcane” as some of these were converted for other uses such as residential and industrial, crop shifting in some instances, and urbanization.

So far, the volume of raw sugar produced reached 1.78 million MT as of March 31 this year, up by 11.88 percent from 1.59 million MT recorded in the same period last year, based on data from the Sugar Regulatory Administration.Sugar prices declined by 12.76 percent to P2,775.99 per 50-kilo bag from P3,182.09 per 50-kilo bag, although the current level was fair for farmers, the agency said earlier.

“There are, however, other factors to consider such as diversion to ethanol production and milling schedules. Those facilities which started milling early will also end early when sugarcane supply becomes low,” the USDA said, adding that milling in some areas would end around the second week of May.Amid a flat output, the USDA-FAS said it sees no importation for the comparative period. It said the country still has ample supply and the government was ready to protect local producers. INQ

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TAGS: Business, sugar

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