The Sugarcane Industry Roadmap is formulated to serve as a guide in the identification and implementation of appropriate programs and interventions to prepare the industry for year 2015 and beyond when tariff of imported sugar will be reduced to 5%.

Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) programs and interventions identified in the roadmap are condensed into a slogan - "Gearing up Initiatives for ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) 2015 & Beyond".

A. Target Outputs

  1. Increase in sugarcane area from 400,000 hectares (ha) to 470,000 ha
  2. Increase in farm productivity from 55 tons cane per hectare (TC/Ha) to 75 TC/Ha
  3. Increase in sugar yield from 1.80 bags per ton cane (LKg/TC) to 2.1 LKg/TC

B. Strategies
  1. Improvement of farm productivity and sugar yield

    Statistics showed that small sugarcane farms which comprised around 90% of the total sugarcane farms in the country produced an average of 50 TC/Ha compared with the big and well-managed farms which produced more than 100 TC/Ha.

    Sugar yield per ton cane is dependent on mill efficiencies and cane quality. Old and dilapidated sugar mills usually have low grinding efficiencies and cane quality is influenced by good agricultural practices, timely delivery to sugar mills and weather conditions aside from the application of the right quantity of fertilizer and pest/disease infestations.

  2. Improvement in the capacity utilization of sugar mills

    Currently, capacity utilization of the country's sugar mills is around 60%. Sugar mills within the same province are competing for the supply of cane by providing some hauling subsidies to farmers just to capture a bigger supply of sugarcane. 
  3. Sugarcane and molasses as feedstocks for bioethanol production

    The biofuels law passed in 2007 identified sugarcane and molasses as major feedstocks for bioethanol fuel. There are only three (3) existing bioethanol distilleries that can supply a volume of around 79 million liters. Although the law mandates that bioethanol fuel should be locally-sourced, importation is still allowed just to fill-in the supply gap.
  4. Power cogeneration

    The sugar mills have long been cogenerating the power produced from bagasse for its own consumption in the processing of sugar. The potential for exporting excess power to nearby communities is very promising most especially when the renewable energy law was passed in 2008 which provides for incentives to renewable energy developers.

C. Programs and Interventions
  1. Block farming

    Block farming is a banner program that espouses the operational consolidation of small farms to take advantage of plantation-scale production. Similar to the national convergence strategy, the Sugarcane Convergence Program (SCP) will also involve Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

    Operations of small farms (10 ha and less) will be consolidated into minimum "block farms" of 30-50 ha through various innovative schemes like contract growing, joint venture, partnership, profit-sharing, etc. to improve farm productivity and income of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs)/small farmers. Professional farm managers/operations managers will be hired to manage each block farm.

    Ownership of small farm is still maintained giving the landowners a share in the earnings gained in using the land for sugarcane production.
    The DAR will focus its support services to the Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) and will lead in the formation of block farms among ARBs. Private investors will assist the block farms, either by direct investments and/or management or service delivery. Assistance from foreign funding can also be tapped for the acquisition of farm machineries, irrigation systems, etc. DA will assist in providing infrastructure support such as farm-to-mill roads, irrigation and other logistical support in coordination with DAR and SRA. DAR and the Mill District Development Committees (MDDCs) will monitor the block farms, while SRA will oversee the whole program implementation and provide technical assistance on best practices in sugarcane farming. LAREC & LGAREC commercial farms shall also assist in providing the necessary planting materials for the block farms. Developed block farms shall serve as demo farms and model cane farms in their respective milling districts.

    Another salient feature of the program is the transformation of block farms into integrated farms where other livelihood options will be introduced through the convergence initiative of DAR, DENR, DA and SRA. Block farm members will be trained as entrepreneurs so they will be empowered to manage the block farm as an agribusiness enterprise. 
  2. Identification of expansion areas

    SRA extension personnel in coordination with the MDDCs will identify potential expansion areas for bioethanol production and additional areas to augment the cane supply of underutilized sugar mills. Likewise, investors for bioethanol fuel production will be doing their own initiatives in looking for idle areas suitable for sugarcane production. SRA will also tap DAR in organizing the ARBs with idle lands that will be developed into sugarcane plantations.
  3. Farm inventory and GPS mapping

    Accurate accounting of all sugarcane farms in the country is a very critical tool in arriving at sugar production estimates which will be the basis for SRA regulatory policies. The baseline data gathered from the farm inventory will also serve as guide for SRA in implementing the programs appropriate for a particular sugar milling district. Some SRA extension personnel will be tapped in the inventory of sugarcane farms and will be trained in GPS mapping. SRA Mill District Officers (MDOs) will update the farm inventory every crop year as one of the bases for the cropping season's sugar production estimate. Weather stations will be installed in all sugar milling districts nationwide in coordination with DA and PAG-ASA. A crop estimation system shall be put in place through the generation of GPS maps and development of information subsystems such as the national farmers registry system (NFRS) and weather station system (WSS). Outsourcing of experts for GPS mapping and development of crop estimation system will be also considered upon the availability of funds. Crop estimates shall be done every crop year by the SRA MDOs through a systematic survey protocol, in coordination with the MDDCs and sugar mills.

    SRA will be implementing beginning 2012 the upgrading of its crop estimation system by employing improved strategies utilizing recent ICT equipment and methodologies in coming up with a more accurate crop estimate.
  4. Research, development and extension services

    SRA has two experimental stations that will cater to the R,D & E needs of the sugarcane industry in coordination with the PHILSURIN which is the private sector research arm of the sugar industry. SRA-LAREC in Floridablanca, Pampanga conducts research and development projects on sugarcane nutrition, variety improvement programs, maintain propagation farms of sugarcane high-yielding varieties (HYVs) and ecological tests of developed cane varieties. LAREC will serve as the central research station for the development of organic farming and muscovado.

    SRA-LGAREC in La Carlota City, Negros Occidental conducts breeding of new sugarcane varieties, maintains the germplasm bank and propagation farms of sugarcane HYVs, variety improvement programs, production of sugarcane plantlets through tissue culture, studies on soil nutrition, development of production technologies, ecological tests of developed varieties, etc.. LGAREC shall serve as the center for sugarcane breeding and will focus on the development of varieties that will surpass the performance of control varieties.

    Efficiency of the commercial farms in LAREC and LGAREC shall be improved through mechanization, application of SRA developed technologies and better farm practices. They shall showcase the SRA technologies which will serve as model farms for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

    SRA has extension personnel assigned in every sugarcane milling district who provide technical / advisory services to cane farmers, collect soil samples for analysis as basis for fertilizer recommendations, gather/monitor farm data and work closely with the MDDC in extending the necessary support services in their areas of responsibility.

    A planter/farmer-extensionist-researcher's feedback mechanism shall be put in place by SRA R,D & E to ensure that its services caters to the needs of the farmers. Farmers' feedback is also necessary to identify the desired characteristics of the cane varieties to be developed in the SRA breeding station. The feedback mechanism shall be coupled with SRA marketing strategy of released varieties to ensure adoption by the farmers.
  5. Farm-to-Mill Roads

    This program will be implemented in close coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DA) as the main source of funding for the establishment of farm-to-mill roads (FMR). Existing FMRs in sugarcane districts are being rehabilitated every milling season.

    The sugarcane industry has been a recipient of a P500 million fund downloaded to the Office of the DA Secretary in 2012 for FMR through the AF-2025 of the COCAFM spearheaded by Senator Kiko Pangilinan and Representative Mark Mendoza and endorsed by Secretary Proceso J. Alcala.
  6. Farm mechanization

    Sugarcane is a crop which needs deep and thorough plowing, hence, farm machineries such as tractors and implements are necessary to improve and optimize farm productivity. DAR, through its fund for common service facility, will provide farm mechanization equipment to the ARBs' block farming program. A proposal for ACEF funding will be worked out which includes counterpart funding from the private sector. Other financing windows for farm mechanization will also be tapped.
  7. Irrigation

    The installation of small water impounding areas and shallow tube wells in sugarcane milling districts to increase the number of irrigated sugarcane farms will be worked out by SRA in coordination with the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM).
    The DA, through the DA-DAR-DENR Convergence Initiative has committed to install one unit of STW per block farm that is being established by SRA.

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