Infrastructure projects seen attracting sugarcane workers

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) on Wednesday said sugarcane workers could take up construction jobs as the government steps up spending for big-ticket infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program.

“Some planters are having a hard time harvesting because the cane cutters in almost all milling districts are affected by the Build, Build, Build,” SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica told reporters in an interview.

“Cane cutters will most likely take on construction jobs under the Build, Build, Build program because of higher pay. That is why [the SRA] is gearing toward farm mechanization,” Serafica added.

He based his pronouncements on the SRA’s observation that there was a delay in the harvest and planting of sugarcane across the country. “Definitely, this is going to be a trend.”

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The SRA has already slashed its output projection in the current crop year ending August 31 to 2.27 million metric tons from 2.38 MMT.

“We did some adjustments already. Because there was so much rain, and this has affected sugarcane, harvesting and the production of mills slowed down,” Serafica said.

“I still hope and pray our production could still recover. But, for Mindanao, aside from the contraction in harvest area, heavy rains continue to affect farms there,” he added.

Serafica said SRA officials will make a “special trip” to Mindanao to determine the problems confronting sugarcane farmers.

The latest data from the SRA showed that, as of February 11, the country’s total raw sugar production has reached 1.037 MMT, 5.17 percent lower than the 1.093 MMT recorded in the same period last year.

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