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Sugar producers say increased farmgate prices ‘huge help’ to farmers

BACOLOD: The United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED), the country's biggest independent sugar planters group, has welcomed the increase in the farmgate prices of sugar. In a statement on Monday, UNIFED president Manuel Lamata said, 'The PHP200 difference is a huge help to our farmers. It is great relief after a long slump in sugar prices.' The price of a 50-kilo bag went higher last week by PHP200, from PHP2,400 to PHP2,600, after prices remained below PHP2,500 since last year, he noted. Lamata cited the efforts of Department of Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. and officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), including Administrator Pablo Azcona and Board Members David Sanson and Mitzi Mangwag, in bringing together sugar traders to start buying sugar at better prices. 'We are thankful to Secretary Laurel, Administrator Azcona, and the SRA Board for their incessant drive to find solutions. We also thank the sugar traders who cooperated with the SRA on this app eal,' he said. Lamata pointed out that the SRA officials stood tall amid the attacks from sugar industry players who just criticized them, but did not offer solutions. In Negros Occidental, the country's top sugar-producing province, bidding prices in seven sugar mills ranged between PHP2,610 and PHP2,595 per 50-kilo bag as of Feb. 22. Earlier this month, the UNIFED also declared support for the intervention of the national government to reduce the farmgate prices of sugar, following criticisms from other sugar groups, claiming that the SRA is pushing for a new plan involving sugar importation. Lamata then said that in addition to the initial PHP5 billion buy-back local sugar scheme from the national government, a second program, where traders will purchase local sugar to be put on reserve and purchased by the national government, has also been introduced. Source: Philippines News Agency

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