Farmers’ group backs sale of seized sugar at Kadiwa

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The leader of farmers’ group Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) yesterday backed the government’s decision to sell at least 12,000 metric tons of seized smuggled sugar at Kadiwa stores, contradicting the earlier position of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG).

In an interview with The STAR, PCAFI president Danilo Fausto maintained that consumers would benefit from cheaper sugar as the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) plan to sell the confiscated products at P70 per kilo, much lower than those sold in Metro Manila markets.

“Why (is SINAG) opposing it? It will give consumers a good price for their sugar. For me, what is important is that it should not be sold below the reasonable price that will affect the farmers,” Fausto said.

The retail price of refined sugar is still sold at as high as P110 per kilo.

SRA board member and planters’ representative Pablo Azcona said Malacañang had approved the SRA recommendation to sell the confiscated contraband.

SINAG president Rosendo So opposed the move, saying confiscated sugar should be disposed of by burying in the ground instead of selling to Kadiwa outlets.

Fausto countered So, saying the sugar became government property when authorities repossessed the illegally sourced products.

“Either sell them to Kadiwa stores or distribute them for free through the ayuda of the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development). It will not affect the market forces,” Fausto said.

He added that P70 per kilo is reasonable as supermarkets were also allowed to sell at the same price last year amid the spike in sugar prices.

The DA and SRA should make sure that consumers can only avail themselves of limited kilos to prevent the product’s reselling, according to Fausto.

“It should be limited as it is supposed to cater to marginalized communities, marginalized people, limited kilos instead of bulk as traders will try to resell the sweetener,” he said.

He added that the government should also make available to Kadiwa stores all confiscated smuggled farm products.

“Similarly, with all other confiscated smuggled farm products, as long as food safety is guaranteed. They should sell them to consumers, to the poor, instead of disposing of the agricultural products,” Fausto said.

DA Assistant Secretary and spokesman Kristine Evangelista said the agency targets to start the sale of seized sugar at Kadiwa outlets beginning next month.

Azcona has said that among those to be sold at Kadiwa stores are 8,000 tons of sugar recently confiscated in Batangas and 4,000 tons seized in Subic.

For So, however, all smuggled goods should be condemned to discourage smuggling of agricultural products in the country.

The retail price of refined sugar in the markets range from P86 to P110 per kilo; washed and brown sugar, P80 to P95 per kilo.

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