‘Early milling season’; Sugar groups urged SRA to allow milling in August

Posted by watchmen
July 25, 2023
Posted in HEADLINE

By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga 

Several sugar groups in Negros Occidental urged the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to consider starting the milling season next month instead of September.

The Sugar Council, a group representing three planters federations and thousands of sugarcane farmers, said hectares of sugarcane are due for harvest in August.

The sugar group said the national government a year ago urged them to start milling early.

They added that many sugar farmers supported the call, milling 432,356 tons, as reported by the SRA.

Consequently, the ratoon plants, estimated at 400,000 tons, are now mature, and delaying their harvest to September will cause them to become overripe, compromising purity and tonnage, the group said.

Five sugar mills in Negros Occidental started milling early in August last year, with two mills commencing operations as early as August 8, in response to the government’s call to mill sugarcane early due to sugar shortages.

The producers look forward to the start of milling next month, as sugar canes are already ripe.

In a letter signed by the Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations, Inc. (Confed) president Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr., National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) president Enrique Rojas, and Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (Panayfed) president Danilo Abelita, they asked SRA acting administrator Pablo Luis Azcona to continue with the previous practice of commencing milling operations in August.

“The recent Tropical Storm ‘Dodong,’ with its torrential rains and strong winds, caused mature canes to lodge. If left unharvested, the purity and weight of these distressed canes will suffer,” the group said.

They further stated that farmers fear any delays in the milling which will lower the weight and sugar yields, resulting in lower sugar production and lower returns.

Milling operations finished earlier than usual last year. 

Several sugar mills stopped milling last April, instead of the usual May to June. 

Some sugar farmers had no income from their farms in April.

The need for fresh income by the producers was also cited, especially by the small farmers, after a few months of no farm work.

“Sugar farmers have already contracted cane cutters and delaying milling to September will force them to financially support the workers or risk losing them,” the Sugar Council said.

If milling starts in September, this will result in an overwhelming demand for farm workers, they added./DGB, WDJ



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