HYDERABAD: As the sugar cane price controversy continues unresolved, the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) has asked the Sindh High Court (SHC) to issue a contempt notice to Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA).
This was done at a meeting of the SCA in Hyderabad, which was attended on Sunday by farmers' representatives from Karachi, Sukkur, Sanghar and Ghotki districts through video link.
The growers accused the PSMA of violating the SHC's order regarding the sugar cane rate. The chamber's vice-president, Dr Syed Shahnawaz Shah, claimed that the sugar mill owners were not even paying the rate of Rs160 per 40 kilogrammes (kg) of sugar cane which was fixed by the SHC on January 30. "The mills are paying only Rs130 in violation of the order," he said.
SHC to hear sugar cane issue on daily basis
The dispute between the farmers and mill owners started when the crushing season began in October last year. The provincial government delayed notifying the cane rate for almost two months, which was perceived by the growers as a favour to the mill owners. Initially, a rate of Rs182 per 40 kg was fixed but the mills refused to buy sugar cane at that rate. The matter was taken to the SHC which first ordered the millers to give Rs172 per 40 kg to the farmers and submit Rs10 per 40 kg in the court. The order was later changed and the mills were asked to pay only Rs160.
"The sugar cane farmers in Sindh are dealing with harshest economic situation. Faced with the fear of crop decay, they are being compelled to sell it at Rs130 or to get nothing," said Dr Shah. "The mills earlier challenged the Sindh government's writ and now they are violating the SHC's order," he bemoaned.
The meeting also expressed concern that a shortage of wheat may hit the province due to the delayed cane crushing which consequently deferred the sowing of wheat crop. The farmers requested the SHC to take notice of the situation at the earliest to prevent the farmers from suffering financial losses.