Manila, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III signed the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2015 into law on March 27, setting the conditions for the maximization of the country’s sugarcane resources.
The certified copy of the signed law was transmitted to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) on March 30 and received the following day.
The law is expected to take effect on April 15.
The SRA is now expected to form a technical working group to refine the prepared draft for the Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) to be used in the public consultations that would be held nationwide, said Rosemarie Gumera, manager of the policy and planning department of the Sugar Regulatory
The Sugarcane Industry Development Act aims to increase the competitiveness of the sugarcane industry and improve the incomes of farmers and farm workers through improved productivity, product diversification, job generation and increased efficiency of sugar mills.
The local sugar industry is already one of the most organized agriculture subsectors in the country.
Among its provisions on increasing productivity, is the institutionalization of the block farming program initiated by the SRA.
Small farm lots, including those held by agrarian reform beneficiaries are to be consolidated into large production sites not smaller than 30 hectares. Ownership, however, will remain with the landowners.
This is meant to produce economies of scale in the production of sugarcane and greater efficiency in production through the effective use of farm machineries and equipment as well as farmhands.
The SRA, Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will also provide common service facilities as well as start up funding and technical assistance for production.
These sugarcane block farms will be certified by the SRA, which will be used as the basis for the provision of grants, access to low interest financing and support from Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Sugar mills, bioethanol distilleries and other markets for sugarcane are to be consolidated to provide market access priority to SRA-certified block farms.
Sugarcane production areas that do not qualify for the block farming program shall be entitled to a support program that includes socialized credit through the Land Bank of the Philippines as well as technical assistance subject to various lending conditions.
Research and development
Under the research and development component of the law, the SRA will intensify research and development activities on high-yielding sugarcane and flood-resistant varieties.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will also conduct research on advanced sugar production and power generation technologies using biomass, and pest control.
To strengthen the extension services provided by the DA and the SRA to sugarcane farms, the law authorizes the Mill District Development Councils (MDCCs) to develop linkages with non-government organizations and local government organizations for the purpose of securing funding and aid in providing technical assistance.
The law also aims to develop a Human Resources Development Master Plan for the industry with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and related educational and labor agencies in the country.
Capacity building activities provided for by the law include the conduct of trainings and provision of scholarships among others.
The law likewise provides for infrastructure support such as farm-to-mill roads and irrigation. – Rappler.com