Farmers call for higher sugar cane price

Farmers call for higher sugar cane price

A truck carries freshly harvested sugar cane to a mill in Suphan Buri. The official price of sugar cane for the new crop year will be formally announced early next month. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A truck carries freshly harvested sugar cane to a mill in Suphan Buri. The official price of sugar cane for the new crop year will be formally announced early next month. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Sugar cane farmers plan to ask the authorities to set the price of sugar cane at 1,400 baht a tonne for the 2023-24 crop year, which is higher than the estimated price to be tabled by the Office of the Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB).

An initial calculation by the OCSB suggests an average sugar cane price of 1,370 baht a tonne, said Verasak Kwanmuang, a farmers' representative who sits on the board.

He said the calculation is based on several factors, including the cabinet's decision to increase the ex-factory sugar price by two baht a kilogramme to better align it with higher production costs.

The board is scheduled to discuss the price before holding a public consultation on Dec 8.

It will meet again on Dec 9 to give the final say to the sugar cane price in the new crop year.

Narathip Anantasuk, head of Thailand Sugarcane Planters Federation, said the federation will ask the board to consider a price increase from 1,370 to 1,400 baht a tonne because the latter will be more suitable for the majority of farmers.

There are nine sugar cane plantation zones in the country and only two match the 1,370-baht proposal, he said.

According to Mr Verasak, 1,370 baht has been set for sugar cane with a commercial cane sugar (CCS) sweetness level of 10.

The sugar cane output is estimated at 82.4 million tonnes in the 2023-24 crop year, with 113.25 kg of sugar per sugar cane.

Domestic sugar consumption is projected at 25.7 million sacks, which represents 2.57 million tonnes.

Sugar for export will be priced at 26.47 cents per pound while the foreign exchange rate is expected to stand at 35.51 baht per US dollar.

The two-baht increase in the ex-factory sugar price will drive the price of refined sugar to 21.22 baht per kilogramme and, after carrying out the relevant calculation, this means the price of sugar cane should stand at 1,505.25 baht a tonne on average.

But by law, the official price of sugar cane should be 95% of the calculated price, meaning the price would be 1,370 baht a tonne, said Mr Verasak.

Following the OCSB's final meeting, the cane-crushing period will get underway on Dec 10.

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