Gov’t sugar import program seen to benefit both producers and consumers

Author: DA-AFID | 15 September 2022

With more than 154,000 metric tons (MT) gap in local sugar supply, the Department of Agriculture (DA) with the guidance of President and DA Secretary Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., is set to import 150,000 MT of sugar under the Sugar Import Program of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

As such, DA-SRA issued Sugar Order No. 2 or the Sugar Import Program for Crop Year 2022–2023. SO No. 2 aims to stabilize domestic sugar supply and prices at reasonable levels.

The program covers a maximum volume of 150,000 metric tons (MT) of refined sugar, wherein 75,000 MT will be allocated to industrial users and the other 75,000 MT to consumers.

“The intention is that the imported sugar shall be open and available for consumption by all industrial users and consumers,” the Order states.

With the approval of President Marcos Jr., as Agriculture Secretary and SRA board chair, the import program shall be open to qualified SRA International Sugar Traders.

The applicants for importation and allocation are required to commit that they will purchase an equal volume of locally produced refined sugar as the volume of imported sugar that may be allocated to them through the program.

Should they purchase locally-produced raw sugar, the conversion shall be on a 1:1.2 basis.

Moreover, participants to the program shall ensure that their allocated volumes shall arrive in the country not later than November 15, 2022.

The deadline for the complete distribution of their import allocations to respective clients for industrial use and/or direct consumption shall be within a month from the said date, while the deadline for their purchase of local sugar shall be on August 31, 2023.

In addition, the imported sugar shall only be stored in SRA-registered warehouses or directly to the declared industrial user’s warehouse or consumers’ warehouse.

The Sugar Order also involves a performance bond that shall be released upon submission of proof of the required local sugar purchase. It states that every import allocation shall be subject to a bond of P750 per 50-kilogram bag.

For violations or non-compliance to SRA orders, resolutions, and circulars, the bond shall be forfeited in favor of SRA. It shall then be allocated to finance fertilizer subsidy programs and other development programs for sugarcane farmers.

The Sugar Order No. 2 also supports Sugar Order No. 1 or the Sugar Policy for Crop Year 2022–2023, which states that local production from September 2022 to August 2023 shall be allocated entirely for domestic use.

It reads, “Sugar production for Crop Year 2022–2023 is expected to be 1,876,135.36 metric tons and shall be quedanned by the mill companies, as implementers of this Sugar Order, in the following percentage: B’ or Domestic Sugar Market – 100%.”

However, the SRA shall undertake periodic assessments and percentage adjustment based on sugar production and withdrawals trend.

Based on the Sugar Policy, the total raw sugar production for the said crop year is estimated at 1.876 MT, while the total domestic raw sugar withdrawal for the same period is estimated at 2.03 MT.

The DA Bantay Presyo team reported that the prevailing retail prices of sugar in Metro Manila markets are at P95 for refined sugar, P75 for washed sugar, and P70 for brown sugar. ### (Gumamela Celes Bejarin, DA-AFID)

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