Sugar mills must adopt new technology and fully maximize the use of sugarcane now for the country’s industry to survive beyond 2015, senatorial candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri again called yesterday.
“I am really worried about the country’s sugarcane industry,” he said.
Zubiri, who was in Bacolod City for the MassKara Festival, said it has been six years since the Biofuels Act that he authored was passed into law but until now, there are very few facilities with the capability to produce ethanol from sugarcane.
They are only producing 20 percent of the country’s bioethanol needs.
Under the law, all gasoline fuel distributed and sold by oil companies in the country should contain a minimum of 10 percent blend of bioethanol, and they must buy local produce first. They can only import when local supply is exhausted, Zubiri noted.
He said the country’s sugar mills should make the San Carlos Bionergy Inc. their model, it is now making money from the production of ethanol and is able to pay the planters more for their sugarcane.
Arnel Amparo, SCBI vice president for operations and resident manager, yesterday said they are making money from the two products they produce – syrup from sugarcane that they sell to other mills to make sugar, and bioethanol from molasses.
Zubiri said Thailand’s sugar is now selling at P900 per Lkg compared to the Philippines’s produce that is selling above P1,400 per Lkg.
When tariffs on imported sugar drop to five percent in 2015, the Philippines sugarcane industry will have difficulty surviving unless it diversified beyond the production of sugar to power and bioethanol, he said.
Zubiri said he was told the Senate is unlikely to be able to pass the Sugarcane Act, authored by Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) in the House, before the next election for lack of time as it is tackling the national budget, sin taxes and the reproductive health bill.
He said if he is elected to the Senate, he will spearhead the passage of the Sugarcane Act and champion the causes of the sugar industry.
Zubiri, whose roots are in Negros Occidental, said he is thanking the people of Western Visayas for consistently placing him in the top three of surveys on senatorial bets in 2013.*CPG