Agriculture council announces sit-in outside Bilawal House

Council president believes Zardari influencing delay in crushing

Our Correspondent November 28, 2017
According to the Sindh Sugar Factories Control Act, the cane crushing season begins from mid-October and lasts until mid-June. PHOTO: APP

HYDERABAD: As the sugarcane crushing controversy lingers on, the Sindh Agriculture and Research Council has announced a sit-in protest on December 2 which will be staged outside Bilawal House in Karachi.

The agriculture council called on Monday farmers from different parts of Sindh to gather in Karachi for the demonstration. "We want to place our question and demands before Bilawal Bhutto Zardari," said Advocate Ali Palh, the council president.

Advocate Palh claimed that the Sindh agriculture department is helpless in resolving the issue as 19 of the 34 sugar mills in the province which have been pressing for the delay are owned by Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari. "Because of this, the Sindh Sugar Factories Control Act, 1950, couldn't be implemented," the council president said.

Farmers demand ban on inter-provincial sale of cane crop

The Act stipulates that the provincial government must begin the crushing season in October every year. The government is also obligated to fix the buying rate of cane in consultation with stakeholders.

The council also plans to highlight other issues at the protest which have been damaging the agriculture sector. The issues include the Sindh government's failure to form an agriculture policy for transparent regulation and support of the sector, alleged corruption in wheat procurement, low rate for rice crop and sale of substandard seeds and fertiliser.

Commenting on the sugar cane crushing issue, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said on Saturday that sugar cane crushing had become politicised in Sindh. He held the federal government responsible for the problem because it banned sugar exports in the period between December, 2016, and April, 2017, which resulted in soaring stocks of sugar in warehouses.

Disappointed with Sindh govt, farmers seek Bilawal's help

The country's sugar production stood at around eight million tons per year against the national consumption of around five million tons, Shah said. According to him, the issue had also been taken up during a meeting of the Council of Common Interests on Friday in Islamabad.

The Sindh Abadgar Board, Sindh Chamber of Agriculture and Sindh Abadgar Ittehad, three organisations lobbying for the rights of farmers, have also announced a sit-in against the delay in sugar cane crushing on December 4.


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