DA Highlights Support Programs to Cash In on Muscovado’s Export Potential

“The country’s sugar industry faces challenges, such as our integration with the ASEAN economic community, a globalized trade market, and severe weather conditions brought by climate change. Strengthening the supply chain and development of product such as Muscovado sugar, showcases the competitiveness of this industry,” said Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development (FLRD) president Antonio V. Roces.

According to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (DA-AMAS), the major markets for Philippine muscovado sugar are USA, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, South Korea, Taiwan, France, and Germany. Last year, DA-AMAS and the Department of Trade and Industry co-organized the participation of the province of Negros in showcasing its muscovado sugar and organic coffee in Cologne, Germany, in a bid to further expand their export markets.

This is in line with DA-AMAS’ continuous efforts to provide an integrated mechanism for market development, investment assistance and promotion services to farmers and stakeholders in order to invigorate agribusiness development and competitiveness in support to the DA’s market efficiency and food security agenda.

Among projects DA-AMAS is involved in the DA’s Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), which prioritizes agricultural investments in the local level to encourage economic development that fosters inclusive growth among small farmers and fisherfolk. In PRDP, muscovado is one of the identified priority commodity for the province of Negros Occidental. At the moment, business plan proposals on the establishment of muscovado processing and packaging center and upgrading of communal muscovado mills are being formulated. For infrastructure support, PRDP has approved four farm-to-market-roads (FMR) amounting to PhP369.35 million. The project is also set to roll out four more bridges and seven FMRs equivalent to PHP872.92 million in Negros Occidental.

Earlier this year, the Sugar Regulatory Administration signed a technical cooperation agreement with the engineering unit of Italy’s Council for Research in Agriculture and Agricultural Economy Analysis (CREA) to further support the country’s thriving sugar industry through farm mechanization. By incorporating new technologies—such as harvesters and loaders, balers for sugarcane trashes, harvesters and biomass machineries—the farmers can add more value to their products while also making their production more sustainable and efficient. For instance, trash incorporators and balers for excess cane trashes in sugarcane fields can provide an added value for the farmers especially small landholders by enabling them to directly sell their baled trashes to sugar mills, which are then utilized to generate biomass power.

DA-AMAS, together with the allied agencies of the DA, will be promoting its latest agribusiness programs at the country’s biggest trade exhibit on agriculture, food and aquaculture—Agrilink Foodlink Aqualink 2016, slated from October 6 to 8 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City. On its 23rd year, Agrilink will highlight the strengths and innovations of the agricultural industries of the Negros Island Region through crop diversification and enhanced focus on  the agribusiness value chain—from production inputs, the use of modern yet appropriate technologies, market diversification, strategic product development, retailing, and marketing. Agrilink 2016 will also highlight the sugar industry, particularly the high export potential of muscovado and how it can provide socio-economic opportunities to our farmers.

At Agrilink 2016, DA-AMAS will also conduct a series of free seminars and workshops to spur enterprise development and agribusiness investment to various agricultural products. The seminars will feature the latest market information to help farmers and fisherfolk enhance their entrepreneurial capabilities. They will also serve as advocacy platforms to promote the DA’s support services and create investment opportunities to OFWs, retirees, farmers, traders, exporters, suppliers and those who want to venture into agribusiness.

Agrilink 2016 is co-organized by over 30 agribusiness, food and trade organizations. It is also supported by the DA and its attached agencies such as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, Bureau of Agricultural Research, Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards and Philippine Rice Research Institute. Aside from local exhibitors, the event will be participated by leading companies from countries such as South Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Netherlands, Denmark, France and South Africa.