DTI, DA to continue collaboration on sugar monitoring
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will continue their collaboration on monitoring sugar prices, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.
This comes amid the call of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) for the DTI to take action against unscrupulous traders who the agency said are manipulating the prices. The DTI on Tuesday, April 23, said it cannot regulate a basic agricultural commodity.
Piñol told reporters on Friday, April 26, that he was in talks with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and they had agreed to to review the situation of sugar prices in the market.
"We conduct a lot of investigation, but at the end of the day it will always be down to the participation [of] the stakeholders...because it's no longer in the hands of the farmers," Piñol said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"It's in the hands of the traders and the middle men. In fact, there are still imported sugar that is still not yet released in the market."
In the meantime, Piñol said that the DA is capacitating farmers to lessen their dependence on traders and middlemen by providing financial aid through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council.
On Friday, Save the Sugar Industry Movement convenor Winnie Sancho slammed the DTI for its earlier statement on sugar supply and price regulation.
In their letter to Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, SRA Board Members Dino Yulo and Roland Beltran also called out the DTI for advocating the liberalization of sugar imports.
Reelectionist Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the committee on agriculture and food, had asked Zubiri to head the inquiry on the proposal to liberalize sugar imports. Zubiri also has roots in Negros Occidental, the sugar bowl of the Philippines.
Both Yulo and Beltran in their letter requested Zubiri to hold a Senate investigation after their recent consultation with stakeholders showed that sugar retail prices reached P60 per kilo.
"[This is] double the price at which our farmers are paid at mill gate which have been steady at P1,450 to 1,500 per 50-kilo bag. We see no fundamental reason for these elevated prices considering also that our warehouses are full to the brim," the letter read. – Rappler.com