Busco, Crystal now allowed to resume operations
MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.net/16 April 2020)—Bukidnon’s two sugar mills are now allowed to resume operations after three weeks of being shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the province.
Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr, who ordered shut Busco Sugar Milling Corp. and Crystal Sugar Company on March 28, allowed the two to reopen Monday, April 20.
After hearing the news, Busco’s planter relations officer Eduard V. Carlos reminded planters to do precautionary measures such as wearing masks and physical distancing when they start delivering sugarcane on April 18.
Carlos said they will mill at least 110,000 metric tons of sugarcane per week to make up for lost time.
Both Busco and Crystal employ more than 500 workers and purchase sugarcane from over 10,000 planters.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar previously appealed for the reopening of the mills citing artificial shortage and price hikes as possible effects of the suspension.
Sugar production of the two mills account for 82 percent of Mindanao’s total output, and 16 percent in the entire country, DA said.
In a letter to the governor, Dar cautioned, “When acting to protect the health and well-being of citizens, we should ensure that any health-related measures will not disrupt the food supply chain.”
Zubiri placed the province under general community quarantine on March 17, ordered closed non-essential establishments, and imposed strict home quarantine. It has logged its first COVID-19 case on April 9.
Jacqueline Lagamon, assistant provincial agriculturist, said more than 25 percent of Bukidnon’s 1.04-million hectare land area is planted with rice, corn, and high value commercial crops.
Sugarcane alone is planted in more than 56,000 hectares, which last year yielded more than 4 million metric tons of cane.
On April 14, Zubiri received a show cause order from the Department of Interior and Local Government after representatives of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association and Del Monte Philippines, Inc. complained of banana and pineapple plantations being shut down.
In a five-page reply, the governor denied ordering them to do so.
Photo: Sugarcane loading. (Photo by Jessie Amigleo)