The Sugar Industry at A Glance

Gone are the days of what they call “The sugar quota”, the days when those who own vast tracts of land own most of the latest car models, live in private subdivisions and can travel around the world anytime they want. The control over the said lands remains on those of the few who are called the elite.

SUGARWORKER – starts his day on the field – their work usually starts early in the morning and ends by 10am and back to fields again by 3pm.*(Owen Segovia Bayog/NDB photo)

When we discuss about the supply of sugar way back in the 70’s, it can suffice the need of the country. Today is a different scenario, as more lands, as the time goes by, are converted into industrial and commercial uses, as big players suddenly change businesses and leave behind those who work and depend on the sugar industry.

FAR FLUNG AREAS – the conventional transport is still in use for sugar production.*(OSBayog/NDB photo)

Sugar workers remain with those who still engage in sugar. Some have gone into other farming forms as they continue to struggle to survive. Gone also are the days when workers get subsidies from land owners during the “off season” or others call the “tiempo muerto” when everyone have to wait for the next milling season.

Amid the latest clamor of those who retained power in the sugar industry, who demanded that beverage companies in the island should only source out sugar from Negros, the cause is noble. It is an act to preserve the mono-crop economy and the people who depend on sugar production – their demand have been met, an even lawmakers also made necessary safety nets to cushion the effects of sugar importation.

The question however remains, among those who continue to toil the land – are their demands for just wages and benefits been given attention? Did the government ensure that these people avail of the social services in health and education? These are just among the prevailing conditions of the people who work to produce sugar, with their blood and sweat being poured into the lands to make our sugar sweeter.

We could only wish that these people be able to gain access to the services due them - they cannot send their children to school for education, they could not afford access to health services, supposedly among the things that could alleviate their condition. The demands of those who hold ownership and power were granted and safe kept – how about the sugar workers and peasants?

Things that we can only wish for – things that will truly bring about change is when the people get what they have worked for.*(osb)