Ban sugar imports, two Negros mayors say as small farmers worry about toll on prices

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TALISAY CITY – Two mayors in Negros Occidental – one of a town dependent on sugarcane farming, the other of a city that hosts a sugar refinery – want a ban on the importation of sugar as the chairman of an agrarian reform beneficiaries organization voiced worries about the tolls importation could bring to small farmers.

"Government should consider giving subsidies to small sugar planters," Daniel Diamante, chairman of an agrarian reform beneficiaries cooperative says as the country prepares to import sugar.
“Government should consider giving subsidies to small sugar planters,” Daniel Diamante, chairman of an agrarian reform beneficiaries cooperative says as the country prepares to import sugar.

“We cannot tell for certain now but we also worry about what (importation) could do to prices of sugar,” Daniel Diamante told DNX.

Diamante heads a group of beneficiaries of the government’s agrarian reform program in La Castellana town who collectively run a sugar farm, a fisheries project, a tree farm, and vegetable and rice plots for their members.

He said the recent El Niño or extended hot season had wrought substantial damage to sugarcane as it affected sugar yield.

As the country plans to import the commodity from Thailand to ease what the Sugar Regulatory Administration said is a lack of supply for the domestic market, Victorias City Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca and Isabela town Mayor Irene Montilla both said government should ban sugar imports as this could hurt the local economy.

Imports should be banned, Victorias City Mayor Carlos Frederick Palanca tells DNX.
Imports should be banned, Victorias City Mayor Carlos Frederick Palanca tells DNX.

Palanca – whose city hosts the Victorias Milling Company, once the largest miller and refinery in Asia – said Negros Occidental would be hardest hit by the importation policy.

“As the home of the sugar industry we will be most affected,” Palanca told DNX.

Montilla, on the other hand, warned of a “cascading effect” to the Negros economy if the imports are allowed.

The first-termer mayor heads the Binalbagan-Isabela Planters Association, one of the largest planters associations that counts among its members those in southern and central Negros.

Montilla said if sugarcane planters get less income for their sugar produce because of cheap imports, this would mean less income for their workers, and less money going around in the local economy

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