Farmers to SRA: Reconsider importation directive

Reaction to sugar import TRO

Farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas today welcomed the Temporary Restraining Order on the importation of 200,000 metric tons of refined sugar authorized by the Sugar Regulatory  Administration’s Sugar Order No. 3 (SO3). 

KMP chaiperson emeritus and former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano described the 20-day TRO by the Sagay Regional Trial Court as a short reprieve that should eventually lead to the abolition of the sugar importation policy. “This is just temporary. The end goal is to stop the planned sugar importation,” Mariano said.

SRA’s importation directive was supposed to fill in the expected supply deficit and control the rising prices of sugar in the local market.

While the TRO is in response to the appeal of sugar planters, Mariano said the national government should wholly reconsider and abandon its plan to import sugar. “Strengthening of local production is still the best solution to the sugar supply glut.”

Mariano said that the planned sugar importation, under the government’s agri trade liberalization policies, will severely hurt thousands of sugar workers and their families in Negros and vast sugar haciendas across the country. “Mawawalan na silang trabaho sa buong taon at hindi lang sa panahon ng Tiempos Muertos o dead season.”

The farmer-leader said the country’s sugar workers will bear the consequences of sugar importation for a long-time. “It will be damaging and irreversible just like the effects of the Rice Liberalization Law on rice farmers,” said Mariano who is also the chairperson of Anakpawis. 

“For sure there are other ways to augment the projected supply shortfall without resorting to importation. If based on SRA’s assessment, Typhoon Odette damaged sugarcane crops, sugar stocks at warehouses, as well as facilities and equipment of sugar mills and refineries in top sugar districts, then the immediate solution is to boost and revitalize sugar production by giving aid to sugar farmers and planters as well. Importation shouldn’t be the government’s default solution,” Mariano concluded.

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