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Bacolod City, PhilippinesMonday, August 22, 2011

Sugar and More

LA VIDA NEGRENSE

Philippine sugar leader Nene Rojas  and wife, Lourdes,  hosted dinner Saturday  at their posh residence in honor of  Peter Baron, the head of the International Sugar Organization who was in Bacolod City.

It was an intimate affair attended by leaders of the sugar industry together with Governor Alfredo Marañon.  Also present was respected Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Armando Doronila.  

Everyone enjoyed the sumptuous buffet dinner specially catered for the occasion, while,  the best wines from Nene’s  collection  overflowed. The ISO head jetted to the Philippines with his lovely wife Mete.  Peter holds office in London, with members from sugar producing countries around the world.

In a privileged one-on-one interview, the ISO chief  said that the sugar industry in the Philippines is facing a bright and promising future, especially with  increasing demand of sugar in the market. Presently we have relatively high world prices for sugar since the supply is low everywhere in the world, he said.  His advice to the hacienderos of Negros and the Philippines is  to continue innovating and choosing excellent variety of sugarcane that produce more sucrose and to find ways and means to reduce overhead plantation cost. 

Peter also said  one obstacle  in the country is the agrarian reform program where the vast sugar plantations were reduced to a mere five hectares or less, thus affecting the profitability of the industry. He compared the industry today to the 70’s and 80’s when  the Philippines was the largest importer of sugar in the whole world.  

A solution he suggested was for a group of small farmers to combine their farms to make it a hundred hectares, so  they will be  capable to buy fertilizers and other farm needs at a much lower cost, since it will be bulk orders, among other benefits.  

Another secret he shared was optimizing field production by delivering immediately to the sugar mills the freshly harvested canes. Canes that get even the slightest delay in mill delivery suffer a reduced sucrose content.  It was an enriching evening filled with sugar conversations with the leaders in the industry.*

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