Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

E.T. Baconawa


The Philippine sugar industry, the country's oldest and leading export earner, is a very important sector of the economy. Average sugarcane production over the past five years was 23 million metric tons which yielded 2 243 700 metric tons of sugar from about 411 000 ha planted to sugarcane (Philippine Sugar Commission, 1985).

Over the years, the industry has kept the country self-sufficient in sugar with a large surplus for export. Moreover, the industry provides jobs for close to a million sugar workers and supports a big dependent sector estimated at 4.5 million people. In 1984, the contribution of the sugar industry to the GVA in the agriculture sector accounted for about 8 percent and its contribution to the GDP accounted for 2.0 percent. Sugar export accounts for an average of 6 percent of total export earnings (National Economic and Development Authority, 1985).

Today, roughly 10 percent of Philippine sugar is exported to the USA, and 40 percent to the world free market. The remaining 50 percent is for domestic use (National Economic and Development Authority, 1985).

Annual production of cane tops and molasses, estimated at 4.70 million metric tons and 916 000 metric tons, respectively, provides a substantial supply of feed materials for the livestock industry. Annual bagasse production output at 6.45 million metric tons provides fuel for the sugar mills and is a potential feed for livestock.

However, since the oil crisis in the early 1970s, the sugar industry has faced several reversals, the most serious of which occurred during the early 1980s when sugar prices plummetted from US 27 cents a pound in 1980 to US 3.5 cents a pound in 1983.

Faced with multifarious problems such as surplus production, low productivity, prohibitive costs of inputs like fertilizers, high costs of wages and capital, and low export market prices, the industry faces a seemingly irreversible crisis. Since the start of the crisis, 3 out of 42 sugar mills have closed and many are moribund. Many planters have become bankrupt and their sugarlands have been foreclosed by the banks. As a result, over 200 000 sugar workers have lost their jobs. Today, the living conditions and the peace and order situation in the sugar-producing areas, especially in Western and Central Visayas, have greatly deteriorated.


Sugarcane molasses

Annual molasses production output has averaged about 916 000 metric tons. Of this, about 67 percent is exported, 17 percent is used by the distilleries, and 16 percent is for animal feed, etc. (National Economic and Development Authority, 1985).

Sugarcane bagasse

Bagasse production output averaged 6.45 million metric tons from 1980 to 1985. For many years, bagasse has been used mainly as fuel by sugar mills during milling seasons, but there is plenty of bagasse available that cannot be used as fuel. A small amount is used as feed, the surplus bagasse being left just to rot around the sugar mills (Rojas, 1985).

Sugarcane tops

During the past five years, estimated yearly cane top production output has been 4.7 million metric tons, with an average production of 11.5 tons per hectare.

Around sugar-producing areas, small farmers collect cane tops during milling seasons as feed for their cattle, carabaos, horses, goats and sheep. Among medium and large livestock raisers, the cane tops are chopped and fed to animals or ensiled for use during off-milling seasons.


Whole sugarcane

Since the start of the sugar crisis, some sugar planters and millers began diversifying into other crops and integrating livestock. This has been the practice since the early 1960s when sugar prices were fluctuating. But the use of whole sugarcane as feed began in the early 1980s, and this is now common in Luzon and Visayas.

In Dasmarinas, Cavite, some 50 km south of Manila, Monterey Farms, a large livestock company with about 18 000 beef and dairy cattle and some 50 000 pigs in different parts of the country, have been feeding chopped whole sugarcane to feeders and dairy cattle. Over 600 crossbred dairy cows (Brahman × Holstein-Friesian) are fed whole sugarcane about half of the year from a 40-hectare sugarcane plantation. A hectare of 10–12 month-old sugarcane fertilized by animal manure produces 75–80 metric tons of whole sugarcane which is fed to the cattle. The cane field is allowed to ratoon once or twice.

A few years ago, the farm ensiled whole sugarcane and is still using the silage today. During summer, 60 percent of the bulk feed for dairy animals consists of chopped whole sugarcane, the other 40 percent consists of chopped napier grass. The combined volume of sugarcane and napier being fed to the dairy cows is 15–20 kg/animal. In addition, 10–15 kg of fresh brewer's grains are given to the milking animal.

Average production of the crossbred dairy cows is 8.5 kg of milk/day during a lactation period of about 260 days. Among selected cows, average milk production is 15 litres. Here, the male calves are raised for fattening purposes along with culled animals. Monterey Farms dairy project has been in operation for two years. So far the project is successful with an assured market for fresh milk at Magnolia Dairy Plant, the biggest ice-cream and liquid milk plant in the country.

At Canlubang Sugar Estate, Canlubang, Laguna, 50 km south of Manila, the sugar estate, one of the biggest planters and millers, is feeding chopped whole sugarcane to 200 crossbred Brahman and STa. Gertrudis calves and yearlings, with 5–10 kg fresh brewer's grains purchased from Beer Hausen's Brewery, some 20 km away, as supplement. These animals are raised for sale to feeders and breeders when they reach 120 kg liveweight or above.

Sugarcane tops

This is a very popular feed among small livestock raisers who have their farms around the vicinity of sugarcane plantations. During milling seasons, sugarcane planters allow small farmers to collect cane tops from the fields to feed their cattle, carabaos, goats and sheep.

Semi-commercial and commercial scale feeding of cane tops to cattle and carabaos is commonly practised in Western and Central Visayas, particularly in the Island of Negros (Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental) which is predominantly a sugarcane area. In this island alone, some 50 sugar planters are using cane tops as feed for their feeder and breeder cattle and carabaos, estimated at 7 500 cattle and 500 carabaos.

Sugarcane molasses

Molasses for animal feeding is commonly used by feedmillers who incorporate it in the compound feed for poultry, swine, cattle, goats and horses. The Bureau of Animal Industry, the government agency authorized by law to supervise feedmillers and feed dealers, recommends the use of 4–5 percent molasses in the compound feed for various livestock species. At cattle feedlots, molasses is given freely to animals as a lick. Among work-horse owners in cities and towns, it is also a common practice to incorporate molasses in the feed for horses. During summer, when forage and pastures are scarce, rice straw is generally fed to cattle, carabaos, horses and goats. To make rice straw palatable and smell sweet to the animals, molasses is added to the straw at the rate of 8–10 percent of the weight of the straw (Baconawa, 1985).

Filter cake

Several attempts have been made to use some amounts of filter cake in feeding cattle and carabaos. However, the use of filter cake or mud press has not yet become popular with the farmers.

Sugarcane bagasse

Likewise, attempts have been made to use sugarcane bagasse for feeding animals, but the cost of treating or fermenting bagasse to make it suitable for feed has been the biggest problem.


The serious problems attendant to the importation of yellow corn, soybean, fishmeal, and meat and bone meal for feed, and the foreign exchange requirements of importing feed ingredients have greatly affected small and medium livestock raisers in the countryside. Today, backyard poultry and pig raisers using compound feed have practically disappeared from the scene.

Use of whole sugarcane for feed

Feeding of chopped whole sugarcane is likely to become popular among livestock raisers feeding animals in confinement. The example of Monterey Farms who are feeding feeder cattle in three big farms where sugarcane has been planted not for milling purposes, but for feeding to cattle, has become an eye-opener to farmers, who are constantly faced with shortage of forage during summer.

Animal raisers are realizing that among graminae, the sugarcane plant is the most efficient as far as storing food energy is concerned. It does not need harvesting every 45 days like napier, guinea grass, etc. which have to be harvested while the leaves are young and succulent. In the case of sugarcane, the plant can store the nutrients in the cane up to a year or over. If allowed to grow up to 10–12 months in the field, it will yield more tonnage. Sugarcane may be harvested as it is needed for feed, and by chopping the whole sugarcane finely, it practically all becomes edible as feed. Being rich in sucrose content, sugarcane has a very high energy value compared to cultivated grasses like napier, guinea, etc.

As animal raisers continue to look for non-conventional feeds for livestock, Don Bosco Technical School for Boys in Victorias, Negros Occidental and Don Bosco Technical School in Canlubang, Laguna have institutionalized the fabrication of a sugarcane chopper. This is a useful factor in the efficient use of sugarcane as forage.

Sugarcane bagasse

The experimental feeding trial using treated cane bagasse for animal feeding at the Bureau of Animal Industry Non-Conventional Feed Development Project in Quezon City, Metro Manila some three years ago proved technically feasible. The use of chemicals for treating bagasse is expensive, but the use of enzyme or yeast has great promise. The scarcity of feedstuffs today may hasten the full use of fermented bagasse for feeding, both to monogastrics and ruminants. The use of bagasse with molasses will increase the use of molasses.

A Japanese buyer representing Nippon Hi-Cel Co. Ltd. is interested in setting up a fermentation plant in the Philippines to process cane bagasse into feed. The buyer could pay US$ 100 per ton of bagasse. If realized, this venture will absorb all unused bagasse (Daily Bulletin, 1986).

Sugarcane molasses

The introduction of the urea-molasses block as a “lick” for ruminants in the country is likely to increase the use of molasses. Many farmers, using rice straw, corn cobs, etc. for feed, use molasses to increase the energy value and palatability of the feedstuffs.

Filter cake

The use of filter cake as a soil conditioner has become routine among sugar planters. Its use in the feed for cattle and carabaos has been tried by farmers but it has not become popular. The cost of transport from the mill to the farm is high. Even if the planters want to use the filter cake, they have to buy it from the millers.


A number of cattle raisers have already introduced sugarcane as forage for their cattle, instead of just depending on cogon (Imperata cylindrica Linn.) and other natural grasses. This appears to be the beginning of a breakthrough in the use of whole sugarcane. In Masbate, a cattle rancher has established a sugarcane plantation to feed and fatten his cattle during summer when fresh cogon and other grasses are scarce. Among smallholder farmers in Batangas province, feeding manually separated sugarcane to pigs when compound feed is scarce is another step toward the use of sugarcane as feed to monogastrics.

There is a great potential of feedstuffs available in the form of cane tops, bagasse and molasses. With the use of fermentation technology, the tremendous supply of these feedstuffs could feed millions of livestock in the country, cut down feed imports, and increase meat and milk production.

If the sugar industry is to recover from and survive the present crisis, it has to undertake some radical steps, mainly aimed to 1) reduce total land area planted to sugarcane, removing marginal areas, effecting production efficiency, and limiting production to demand for domestic and foreign export; 2) conduct sustained studies on costs and returns on growing and feeding sugarcane and its byproducts; 3) formulate least cost feed rations for various livestock species and classes with sugarcane and its byproducts 4) conduct research on crop diversification to determine the crops most suitable for inter-cropping, multi-cropping, crop rotation, etc.; 5) stimulate studies on integration of various livestock species most suitable for the use of sugarcane and 6) conduct continuing workshops on the results of such studies, and train technicians and farmers on the use of suitable and cheap feeding systems and feed formulations, using sugarcane and its byproducts as components.


Baconawa, E.T. 1985 Treated rice straw for carabao, cattle, goat and sheep feeds, Bureau of Animal Industry, Quezon City, Philippines.

Daily Bulletin, 1986 Manila, Philippines, 28 June.

National Economic and Development Authority. 1985 Philippine Statistical Yearbook.

Philippine Sugar Commission. 1985 Statistical series on sugar. Vol. II.

Rojas, D.B. 1985 Sugarcane and its by-products for animal feed. Animal Production Technology 1 : 1, University of the Philippines at Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.

E.T. Baconawa

La industria azucarera, que siempre ha sido el principal sector de exportación, es un elemento vital de la economía de Filipinas. Proporciona emleo casi a un millón de personas y tiene un importante sector dependiente de 4,5 millones de personas.

Los cogollos de caña y la melaza, cuya producción media anual se estima en 2, 72 millones y 900 000 toneladas, respectivamente, representan una enorme cantidad potencial de piensos para la industria pecuaria.

Después de la crisis del petróleo de comienzos del decenio de 1970, esta industria ha sufrido various retrocesos, el más grave de los cuales en los primeros años ochenta, cuando los precios del azúcar se hundieron, pasando de 27 centavos de dólar EE.UU. por libra en 1980 a 3,5 centavos en 1983.

Algunas fábricas de azúcar han cerrado, muchos propietarios de plantaciones y fabricantes de azúcar están registrando pérdidas, más de 100 000 hectáreas de plantaciones han sido sometidas a procedimiento de embargo por los bancos y más de 200 000 trabajadores han perdido su empleo en este sector. En consecuencia, las condiciones de vida y la paz social en las zonas productoras se ha deteriorado mucho.

Para que la industria azucarera pueda recuperarse de esta crisis y sobrevivir a ella, se han de tomar medidas radicales, sobre todo con el fin de (1) reducir la superficie total dedicada a este cultivo, suprimiendo tierras marginales, lo cual permitiría aumentar la eficiencia y ajustar la producción a la demanda interna y de exportación; (2) realizar constantes estudios de los costos y los rendimientos del cultivo y la utilización de la caña de azúcar y sus subproductos como pienso; (3) preparar raciones de bajo costo para distintas especies y clases de ganado a base de caña de azúcar y sus subproductos; (4) realizar investigaciones sobre la diversificación de cultivos con el fin de determinar cuáles son los más apropiados para un régimen de cultivos intercalados, cultivos múltiples, rotación de cultívos, etc.; (5) promover la realización de estudios sobre la integración de diversas especies de ganado apropiadas para la industria del azúcar; y (6) celebrar periódicamente reuniones de trabajo sobre los resultados de tales estudios y capacitar a técnicos y a agricultores en la aplicación de sistemas de alimentación adecuados y baratos y en preparaciones de piensos, utilizando la caña de azúcar y sus subproductos como componentes.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page