The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) will use its regulatory powers to maintain the price of sugar amid speculations that sugar prices will decrease in the coming milling season.

'The effort of the SRA is to peg the price of raw sugar at P3,000 per 50-kilo bag,' SRA chief Pablo Luis Azcona said yesterday.

'This is to keep the price of retail refined sugar at P85 per kilo,' he added, noting that the price is profitable for farmers.

Market prices in fact range from P90 to over P100 a kilo and even up to P156 a kilo in some supermarkets, refusing to come down from the record-high levels despite several harvests and tons of white sugar importations, including a controversial one awarded to just three favored importers at the start of the year.

The high prices have prompted institutional users to push for a permit to directly import their sugar needs.

Azcona said the country has enough stocks of refined and raw sugar.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson hopes the average price of sugar will remain at P3,000 per bag.

Sugar milling season will kick off in the first week of September in Negros Occidental.

Rice and corn

The country's rice and corn inventory registered double-digit reductions in May, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

In the PSA's latest rice and corn stocks inventory report, total rice stocks stood at 1.88 million metric tons (MT) as of May 1, which is 17.5 percent lower than the 2.28 million MT registered in the same period a year ago.

Rice stocks in the household sector saw a 19.9 percent year-on-year decrease from 1.24 million MT to 993,970 MT.

Inventory in the National Food Authority (NFA) depositories dropped by 37 percent to 100,120 MT from last year's 158,800 MT.

The PSA said rice stocks in both commercial and NFA depositories increased by 8.1 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

However, rice stocks in households were down 2.1 percent.

Corn stocks slipped by 14.2 percent to 668,700 MT as of May 1, compared to 779,790 MT recorded in the same period last year.

Corn stock inventory in commercial warehouses, wholesalers and retailers decreased by 13 percent while household stocks fell by 22 percent.

Over the last month, corn inventory grew by 34.6 percent from 496,740 MT.

Corn stocks in commercial warehouses accounted for 87.5 percent of the total inventory, while households accounted for 12.5 percent.

Onion trader in contempt

Meanwhile, the House committee on agriculture and food cited in contempt businessman Eric Pabilona - cold storage facility owner - following his repeated refusal to attend hearings on overpricing and price manipulation of onions in the market.

'For the continuing defiance of Mr. Pabilona, the owner of Tian Long Corp., it would seem to be that this is an outright disrespect to the committee,' Rep. Rodante Marcoleta said on Wednesday.

A motion seeking Pabilona's arrest has been approved.

Pabilona is reportedly a shareholder in PhilVieva Corp., a company allegedly owned by businesswoman Lilia Cruz. Cruz has been described by Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo as the so-called 'sibuyas queen' at the center of the onion cartel, which Cruz has categorically denied.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez earlier commended Quimbo for unmasking key players in the onion cartel, and urged law enforcement authorities to build an airtight case against businessmen involved.

'The extensive hearings conducted by the House have already provided good leads which our authorities can follow to build an airtight case and prosecute those involved,' he said.

Swine, chicken

Swine and chicken production in the country increased in the second quarter of 2023, driving farmgate prices lower during the three-month period, according to the PSA.

The PSA's report showed that hog production reached 422,719 metric tons liveweight from April to June this year, up one percent from 418,403 MT liveweight in the same period last year.

The growth during the quarter was slower than the three percent growth registered in the same period last year.

Among all regions, nine posted higher hog production.

Central Luzon recorded a 36.3-percent jump to 42,347 MT from 31,060 MT, while Central Visayas was the country's top hog producer with 54,444 MT, cornering 12.9 percent of the total production.

In terms of inventory, the country's total swine inventory reached 10.07 million heads as of end June, up 1.4 percent from 9.94 million heads a year earlier, according to PSA data.

Of the total, 67.5 percent of the swine population came from small-hold farms, while the remaining 29.2 percent and 3.2 percent were from commercial and semi-commercial farms, respectively.

Calabarzon recorded the highest swine population with 1.3 million heads, followed by Central Visayas (1.17 million heads) and Northern Mindanao (1.12 million heads).

The PSA said these three regions accounted for 35.6 percent of the country's total swine population during the period.

The average farmgate price of hogs for slaughter was P169.73 per kilo liveweight during the quarter, a 5.1 percent decrease from P178.86 per kilo liveweight in the same period last year.

For chicken, production during the quarter reached 477,757 MT liveweight, an increase of 3.2 percent from 463,116 MT in the same period last year.

PSA data showed 13 regions registered higher output, with Calabarzon recording the highest growth in terms of volume with 93,900 MT from 86,190 MT.

Meanwhile, Central Luzon was the top producer of chicken with 154,124 MT, cornering a 32.2-percent share of the total chicken production.

Production during the quarter, however, fell by 2.4 percent year-on-year.

The country's total chicken inventory reached 200.21 million during the quarter, up 2.8 percent from 194.71 million a year earlier.

PSA data showed that the population of native/improved chicken and broiler chicken grew by 6.2 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, while layer chicken stocks reported a decline of 0.9 percent.

Of the total inventory, native/improved chicken accounted for a 43.3-percent, followed by broiler chicken (34.5 percent) and layer chicken (22.2 percent).

Central Luzon had the highest inventory with 33.68 million chickens, followed by Calabarzon with 27.32 million and Northern Mindanao with 25.87 million.

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