Sugar harvest likely to come in under target

Sugar harvest likely to come in under target

By Adrian H. Halili, Reporter

THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said the Philippines is unlikely to hit its sugar harvest target during the current crop year.

SRA Administrator Pablo Luis S. Azcona told reporters that the harvest is on pace to come in below the 1.85 million metric ton target set before the start of the milling season.

The regulator had projected a 10-15% decline in raw sugar production due to El Niño.

“What is alarming also is that a lot of our farmers are complaining of a lower yield this year due to the weather patterns, and the south of Negros has been very dry in the last two or three months. So, we already see the effects,” Mr. Azcona said.

“I don’t think we will hit 1.85 million MT, the way it is going now,” he added.

The government weather service, known as PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), said that the effects of El Niño may run until the second quarter. An estimated 63 provinces will experience droughts or dry spells.

He said the preliminary estimate for the sugar harvest is now 1.75 million MT.

“During the review, we noted a drop. The estimate will come out soon but based on preliminary estimates, and of millers (output will fall) to about 1.75 million MT,” he added.

The SRA said that the sugar industry has harvested about 1 million metric tons of sugarcane as of Jan. 15. This translates to about 60% of the total harvest for the crop year.

“(What we are) doing now is write millers to check their individual milling districts, how much sugarcane is still standing… when we get that data, we will have a more accurate estimate of what percentage is left,” Mr. Azcona said.