A group of French suppliers representing global sugar industry machineries manufacturers and processes equipment suppliers conducted a week-long visit in Negros last week to discuss business opportunities which can redound to improved efficiency and productivity in the sugar industry.
Before visiting Negros, the group met in Manila with Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Board Member Dave Sanson and Deputy Administrator (RD&E) Atty. Ignacio Santillana, Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PSMA) Executive Director Atty. Jesus Barrera, Oscar Cortes and Jana Vicente, and Victorias Milling Company Corporate Communication Head Anne Tionko.
Assisting the group in arranging the visits were Managing Director Kevin Charuel and Business Support Officer Bea Castro of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry France – Philippines (CCIFP), a non-profit and self-sustaining organization which aims to promote trade between France and the Philippines.
The suppliers wanted to get an overview of the Philippine sugar industry, and to understand what milling and farming equipment the sugar industry may need to upgrade its equipment and processes towards greater productivity and sustainability.
The SRA provided a profile of the industry, such as the number of farmers and farm sizes, national sugar production and withdrawals, and an overview of the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA) and the various programs funded by the SIDA.
Meanwhile, PSMA’s presentation focused on the milling sector, particularly on the investments of mills to improve sugar recovery. PSMA also discussed the industry’s diversification into ethanol and commercial power cogeneration, and the challenges which the industry faces in those areas.
The group then proceeded to Negros Occidental, where they were welcomed with a dinner at the Provincial Capitol by Governor Bong Lacson, Vice-Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer with Provincial Board Members Rita Gatuslao, Pal Guanzon, Manuel Frederick Ko and Anton Occeño, and other provincial officials.
Considered the Sugar Bowl of the Philippines, Negros Island accounts for more than 60% of the almost two million metric tons annual national sugar production. Negros also hosts 13 of the 25 active sugar mills and six of the eleven sugar refineries in the country. Moreover, most mills engage in bioethanol production and power cogeneration.
The French delegation visited the Philippine Sugar Research Institute facility at the Hawaiian-Philippine Company Compound in Silay City and the SRA’s La Granja Agricultural Research and Extension Center in La Carlota City, where they learned about new high-yielding varieties (HYV) of sugarcane and other research efforts.
They also visited the facilities and discussed opportunities with officers of Lopez Sugar Corporation, Sagay Central and integrated sugar mills of the Universal Robina Corporation (URC), one of the country’s largest sugar industry conglomerates which operates six sugar mills, three sugar refineries, two bio-ethanol distilleries and two biomass cogeneration power plants.
The delegation of French suppliers consisted of Thierry Prudhomme, Business Development Director of pumping and filtration processes specialist Georges Briere – Broquet Pumps; Norbert Duc, Sales Manager for Asia, Oceania and South Africa of Iteca Socadei, a leading manufacturer of sampling systems, process control analysers and centralised automatic laboratories;
Benoit Gillet, Export Sales Manager of Mixel, designer and manufacturer of tailor-made mixing systems for industrial processes applications; Yann Benarrous, Asia Pacific Managing Director of Precia Molen, specialist in industrial weighing solutions for storage and handling of bulk agricultural products;
Laurent Barau of Ercane, a research and innovations center which produces high-yielding sugarcane varieties; Maxime Legrand, Sales Director of Choquenet, manufacturer and supplier of filtration equipment to sugar factories and distilleries;
Nicolas Gouez (Sugarcane Industry Sales Manager) and David Bossard (Sales Director) of CMD Gears, which designs, produces, installs and maintains high torque and low speed gear drives; and Thomas Almadori, Process and Sales Manager for Asia Pacific of Novasep, a leading supplier of process development services, purification equipment and systems, and exclusive synthesis and purification services.
This is not the first time that CCIFP met with Negros sugar leaders. Last September, Managing Director Kevin Charuel and Business Support Officer Bea Castro presented CCIFP’s upcoming programs to the officers of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations (CONFED) in Makati. Headed by Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama, Jr., CONFED is the largest federation of sugar planters associations in the country.