After more than 12 years of producing muscovado sugar using the traditional production and processing technology, the Kalibutan Society Inc. (KSI) and the small farmer-sugarcane producers in southern Negros Occidental will soon have a new muscovado mill plant with the latest production equipment and facilities. This was realized after 5 years of planning and preparation by the project stakeholders. This muscovado production and marketing enterprise project is jointly funded by the loan proceeds from the World Bank, the Department of Agriculture, the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental and the KSI, being the proponent.
A ground-breaking activity was held last July 14, 2021 at the project site in Brgy. Oringao, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, led by Gov. Eugenio V. Lacson and the DA Regional Director Remelyn Recoter. Entitled “Muscovado Production and Marketing Enterprise”, a sub-project of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) has a total project cost of P25million which will cover two components: the infrastructure component (construction of the building) and the enterprise component (comprising of boiling facilities, juice extractor, furnace and trading capital). The activity was also witnessed by Kabankalan City Mayor Pedro Zayco and Vice Mayor Raul Rivera, Himamaylan City Mayor Rogelio Raymund I. Tongson, Jr. , the Provincial Board Member for 6th District, Deputy Project Director of PRDP, the Visayas Cluster PRDP support office, the Provincial Engineer, OIC Provincial Agriculturist, and KSI officers and members.
It can be noted that despite the crisis in sugar industry experienced in early 80’s, Negros Island remains the sugarbowl of the Philippines, where its economy largely depends. The island is known for its vast tracks of sugarlands, but controlled by a few families and capitalists, and who subsequently extend their control over the conventional sugar mills. Redistribution of big lands to sugar workers and tenant farmers through the implementation of the government’s comprehensive agrarian reform program, though remains a big challenge has started to change the agricultural landscapes, with small farmers and their organizations diversifying their crops and converting their farms into organic, subscribing to Masipag principles of sustainable agriculture. The widespread practice of farmers’ organic production for food security for about 2 decades now, has contributed to the passage of the Provincial ordinance to promote organic agriculture and the annual celebration of Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival (NIOFF). However, up to this time sugarcane remains the primary crop grown in the Island.
To protect the small farmer-sugarcane producers from unfair compensation system under the conventional sugar mills set-up and help them increase their income, being the economic arm of MAPISAN member-small farmers organizations in the Central and Southern Negros, the Kalibutan Society Inc., has engaged into muscovado production. For more than 12 years now, it begun on a small scale operation using manual juice extractor and cooking. The production and processing technology was gradually improved with the support of partners from abroad and until a new mill was established with credit assistance from the DOST in 2015. However, with the increasing demand for muscovado sugar at the local and international market, the existing muscovado mill cannot process beyond the 10 ton-capacity per day. Through the partnership and support of the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental and the Department of Agriculture Region VI, this new muscovado mill plant will now be able to provide the latest production equipment and facilities that would satisfy the market’s growing demand for volume and a high quality, sediment-free muscovado sugar in the domestic and foreign markets. Muscovado sugar is the first commodity with value chain analysis and is included in the Provincial Commodity Investment Plan of Negros Occidental. The project is expected to increase the income of the small farmer-sugarcane producers in southern part of Negros Occidental. The Kalibutan Society Inc. (KSI) is a long time active partner of PDG and MASIPAG in promoting sustainable agriculture and MASIPAG Farmers’ Guarantee System (MFGS) in the province.