Politics

Marcos orders 2-month buffer stock for sugar

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THE GOVERNMENT will maintain a two-month buffer stock of sugar to contain price volatility in the commodity, Malacañang said in a statement on Monday, citing a briefing President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. delivered en route to the Davos conference in Switzerland.

“We will maintain from now on, in sugar, a two-month buffer stock,” Mr. Marcos was quoted as saying. “People will know we won’t have a shortage because we will always (have) a two-month buffer stock, which I will maintain.”

The Palace gave no details on which agency will oversee the buffer stock scheme or what its procurement budget will be.

The government, through the National Food Authority (NFA), also maintains a buffer stock equivalent to at least 15 days’ consumption for rice.

The NFA builds up an inventory of rice purchased from domestic farmers and releases stock to local governments or non-government organizations during disasters. To do so the NFA maintains a network of buying stations, mills, and warehouses in rice-growing provinces.

The NFA rice buffer stock operation was granted a budget of P12 billion in 2023, including procurement.

The NFA does not engage in market intervention but releases a quantity of cheap rice for purchase by low-income consumers.

Mr. Marcos, who serves as his own Agriculture Secretary, promised when he took office in June to limit food imports “as much as possible.”

Early in his term, a spike in sugar prices allegedly caused by tight supply forced him to authorize sugar imports of 150,000 metric tons in September.

Sugar prices in supermarkets hit a record P134 per kilogram in October.

In December, Mr. Marcos also approved refined sugar imports of a further 64,050 metric tons.

Mr. Marcos said digitalizing the Bureau of Customs will be a key measure in dealing with smuggling.

Addressing domestic production of food, Mr. Marcos said: “We have to go back to the sugar industry … We have to go back to the onion growers and help them… so we do not need to import.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza