High sugar prices blamed on shipping cartels
(The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2020 - 12:00am

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines  – Sugar producers on Negros Island are blaming shipping cartels for the high prices of sugar.

Gerard Joseph Sarrosa of Tatak Kalamay said  on Friday that the shipping cost of sugar in the Philippines is higher compared to neighboring countries.

Tatak Kalamay is an organization of sugar producers, agrarian reform beneficiaries, and mill and farm workers.

Sarrosa said freight charges from Bangkok to Cebu of a 40-footer container is P52,000 and from Bacolod to Manila is P72,822.

A kilo of brown sugar costs P36 in La Carlota City in Negros Occidental and almost P50 in Manila.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, and Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino on Friday met with sugar industry leaders in La Carlota City.

Villar and Lambino said the Philippine Competition Commission should look into the matter.

Tatak Kalamay leaders said reduced logistics rates would bring down the prices of sugar and make it competitive.

The group has been asking for support in terms of infrastructure like improved  ports, to boost their competitiveness.

Lambino said the prices of local sugar is 2.7 times higher compared in other countries.

During the dialog, industry leaders stressed the need to liberalize the entry of farm inputs to bring down production cost.

Roberto Cuenca, president of the  Associacion de Agricultores de La Carlota y Pontevedra Inc., said a majority of the country’s sugar plantations are owned by small farmers.

Cuenca said these farmers stand to suffer if sugar import liberalization is implemented.

The concerns of Tatak Kalamay will be raised during a hearing of  the House committee on agriculture and food tomorrow.

CYNTHIA VILLAR GERARD JOSEPH SARROSA
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