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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, March 17, 2014
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US firm eyeing sugar
juice for chemicals

BY ADRIAN NEMES III

The United States Department of Agriculture has informed the Sugar Regulatory Administration that a private firm is interested to conduct a study in the Philippines on the possibility of producing chemicals from sugarcane juice, SRA administrator Ma. Regina Martin told the DAILY STAR yesterday.

Martin said these chemicals will be used by the firm for the production of spandex fabric, which is most often is used in making sports wears.

She said the private firm sought the help of the U.S. DA by providing them with the list of sugarcane-producing countries where the study will take place and it included the Philippines.

However, there is no specific date yet as to when representatives of that firm will come over because the U.S. DA has not written the SRA again.

“If this pushes through, and they will get their supply of sugarcane juice from us, it will be an added income, not only for Negros Occidental, but for other provinces that is into sugarcane farming”, Martin said.

Meanwhile, Martin noted that SRA has registered about 45 sugarcane block farms in the Visayas with 30 of them in Negros Occidental.

She said that there are also unregestiered block farms organized by sugarcane farmers themselves, and the management of sugar mills.

SRA records show that 90 percent of sugarcane farms in the country have areas of 10 hectares or less.

Earlier, Martin had said smaller farms are increasing in number through natural subdivision due to inheritance, sale and agrarian reform, but sugarcane is a plantation crop with high profitability when operated as large farms.

She said that consolidating the small farms into a “block farm” will ensure operational efficiency to increase productivity, reduce cost, and ultimately increase the income of small farmers. She also said that small farms should be consolidated into block farms with aggregate areas of no less than 30-50 hectares.

Martin added that this should be done through various innovative schemes, like lease, joint venture, partnership, and sharing.*APN

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