Press Release
September 24, 2014

Villar: Sugar Cane Act to provide sugar workers with socialized credit

Sen. Cynthia Villar, in pushing for the immediate passage of the bill that will put in place measures to ensure that the local sugar industry will be able to compete in the face of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration, has said that sugar workers will be granted more assistance to boost their competitiveness under the proposed measure.

Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, is defending at the Senate plenary Senate Bill 2400 or the Sugar Cane Industry Development Act.

"The sugarcane industry players have time and again expressed their fear and apprehension about the said impending regional economic integration. This bill, among others, will help them to be more competitive," Villar said.

Under the proposed measure, the Block Farm Program, or the consolidation of small farms as one larger farm will be institutionalized. These farms are five hectares or less, including farms of agrarian reform beneficiaries.

"This practice will take advantage of the economies of scale in the production of sugar cane. This will result in operational advantages because activities in the small farms are aligned and the efficient use of farm machineries and equipment, deployment of workers, volume purchase of inputs, and financing, are ensured," Villar said.

The bill also provides for the farm support program to farms which are nine hectares or less and are not eligible under the Block Farm Program. These farms will be granted with access to socialized credit.

This will be made available through the Land Bank of the Philippines, for the acquisition of production inputs, farm machineries, and implements necessary for the continuous production of sugar cane.

Also under the bill, scholarship program for the underprivileged but deserving college and post graduate students who are taking up courses in relevant field of disciplines in state universities and colleges will be made available. Scholarships will be given in agriculture, agricultural engineering and mechanics, and chemical engineering/sugar technology, as well as vocational courses for farmers and farm technicians, and skilled workers in sugar mills, sugar refineries, distilleries, and biomass power plants.

It mandates the Department of Labor and Employment, Sugar Regulatory Authority, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Professional Regulation Commission and the private sector to formulate and implement a Human Resource Development Master Plan for the industry.

The bill sponsored by the Nacionalista Party Senator will provide for the conduct of capability trainings or attendance to local or international trainings and seminars by farmers and workers on the latest technologies related to sugar cane farming, manufacture or production and other products derived from sugar cane.

This program will be sourced from the Sugar Cane Industry Development Fund, which will be collected from 15 percent of the Value Added Tax on local and imported sugar and tariff collected from the importation of sugar.

"As it stands, we are self-sufficient in sugar but we are anticipating stiffer competition with cheaper sugar from abroad, particularly Thailand, which is the largest sugar producer among ASEAN countries. The Philippines comes second," Villar stressed.

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