Molasses, a by-product of extracting sugar from sugarcane, is used by distilleries to produce alcohol and ethanol. The importation of this by-product has drawn the CONS and PROS among business groups particularly, the Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PSMA) and the Ethanol Producers Association of the Philippines (EPAP), respectively.
The opposing or CONS (PSMA) contends that there is sufficient supply of the raw material (molasses) locally. The PSMA says that “there is no need to import molasses for bioethanol. Local molasses production is on the upswing and our demand has been soft and slow. . . and molasses inventories are building up that there has been an overflow in molasses tanks in some mills in recent months. And that, according to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), as on January 2023, molasses production reached 471,046 .15 metric tons (MT) higher by 3.38 percent from December 2022.
Also, In 2022 the Philippines imported molasses for potable alcohol and animal feeds, up by 80 percent from 2021. In January 2023 molasses importation reached 80 percent to 88,7021 MT.
Meanwhile, EPAP earlier said that the ethanol industry needs 1.6 million of molasses to fully support their operations, however, SRA only reports a maximum o 1.1million MT.
Furthermore, and based on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report expressed optimism that the Philippines will accelerate its total fuel ethanol imports by 33 percent to 330 million liters this year to fill in the gap due to the expected increase in consumption.
The issue on whether or not the country need to import molasses to keep the Bioethanol Industry alive, needs immediate action by the present political leadership. Personally, I cannot the logic of importing molasses if the PSMA is saying that there is enough molasses produce kept in tanks to meet the operational needs of the EPEP, but bluntly denied by EPAP. Just which group is telling the naked truth?
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