Philippine Sugar Output Continues To Drop

Published online: Jun 20, 2022 News Catherine Talavera, The Philippine Star
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Manila, Philippines — As the crop year is set to end in a few months, the country’s sugar output remains on the downtrend due to unfavorable weather conditions coupled with the damages caused by a typhoon late last year, according to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

In a circular letter addressed to various sugar industry groups, SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica said the country’s sugar production reached only 1.8 million metric tons (MT) as of June 15. “The unusual decline in sugar production was explicitly observed in Negros from March 2022 to May 2022 production data,” he said.

Serafica explained the aberrant decline during the said months was due to the residual effect on the damaged leaves of sugarcane caused by strong winds during the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (Super Typhoon Rai), which hit the country late last year.

“The disruption of the photosynthetic activity and the fewer functional leaves translates to the residual effect on tonnage accumulation of canes milled during the said months,” Serafica said.

Data from the Department of Agriculture - Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operations Center showed that sugarcane damage due to Typhoon Odette reached P1.15 billion, accounting for 8.6 percent of the total agricultural damage.

Serafica said unfavorable weather conditions brought by La Nina has also adversely affected the maturity condition of the late milling canes.

“While for Mindanao, the abnormal overcast skies inhibited the vegetative growth accumulation and excessive moisture during milling adversely affected the sugar recovery this crop year. Overall, La Niña greatly influenced cane maturity, thus, the sugarcane milled especially during the April 2022 milling onwards has a lower sugar recovery,” Serafica said.

The SRA explained that the country also experienced an almost similar production output of 1.9 million MT from crop year 2009 to 2010, when the country was affected by the hot and dry weather conditions brought about by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

“Indeed, the significant effect of climatic fluctuations on crop growth and yield has been considered to have a great impact on the actual production of the crop year 2021-2022,” Serafica said, adding that crop growth and sugar production is directly influenced by climate variability.

Compared to a year ago data, SRA data showed that sugar production on June 13, 2021 already breached the two million mark at 2.12 million MT, not too far from the 2.143 million MT total output for the crop year.

The SRA said earlier that it estimates sugar production to reach 1.982 million MT for the current crop year which ends on August 31.This is lower than its earlier estimate of 2.072 million MT.

In line with the lower sugar production estimate, the SRA implemented a sugar importation program for 200,000 MT of refined sugar.

Serafica said the SRA would continue to actively monitor and assess the sugar supply and demand situation to manage the situation.