‘Calibrated’ imports to protect farmers, consumers

Go Negosyo founder Jose Maria ‘Joey’ Concepcion 3rd. File Photo

ENTREPRENEURIAL advocate Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion 3rd on Monday said the decision of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for a gradual importation of sugar and to import only when the local stockpile has been exhausted will protect both the farmers and consumers.

“Sugar is now P5,200 to P5,500 per sack, and I have no doubt that at this level, consumers are going to be affected,” the Go Negosyo founder said.

“But a calibrated importation of 100,000 to 150,000 metric tons (MT) — as the President is planning — will allow us to see if price levels will start to go down, and doing this at a gradual level will let us adjust as harvest season approaches, then adjust it again as production comes into full swing. There is never a perfect solution, but what you accomplish here is avoiding excessive swings in prices,” he said.

The President over the weekend announced the plan for a graduated importation of sugar following the controversial directive from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to buy 300,000 MT of the commodity from other countries.

Marcos ordered that the current sugar inventory, including those earlier source1d outside the country, be consumed first. Once stocks run low by October, the government may consider importing half of the original intended volume, or 150,000 MT.

The calibrated importation strategy will also apply to rice, seedlings and animal feeds.

“The importation plan that the President has directed is correct and can help us achieve a more inclusive economy. It will allow our small farmers to make a living,” Concepcion, the former presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, said.

He also praised the President for sounding out representatives from the agriculture industry on issues now impacting food supply, including climate change and the rising cost of agricultural inputs.

Concepcion also mentioned the plan to establish the Kapatid Angat Lahat Program, which aims to create linkages between big business and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) to achieve inclusive growth.

Among his recommendations are rebuilding the agriculture value chain to make farming more viable as a livelihood, increasing the use of data and science in agriculture especially in weather planning and soil analysis, addressing outdated policies and structural issues, and letting small farmers benefit from the scale, technology and best practices of big agricultural companies.

“Agriculture is key to the growth of the Philippines. With the private sector's participation, a healthy agriculture industry will enable the country to better handle future food supply crises,” Concepcion said.

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