The delay on part of the sugar mills over buying sugarcane is creating unrest among the farmers, who are already reeling from the devastation caused by the monsoon rains and floods.
Echoing their concerns, the farmers' lobbying group Sindh Chamber of Agriculture at a press conference on Wednesday in Hyderabad, called for immediate start of the sugarcane buying process and fixing its price at Rs400 per 40kgs.
The chamber's general secretary Zahid Bhurgari said that in accordance with the Sindh Sugar Factories Control Act, the sugar mills are supposed to start buying cane from early October every year. He deplored that Sindh Sugarcane Control Board's first meeting was scheduled earlier this month but it was postponed without giving a new date for the meeting.
Most of the agricultural lands had been submerged in floodwater while the sugarcane crop was standing on the rest, Bhurgari said, adding that if the crop was not harvested in time, sowing of wheat would be badly affected. In this regard, the Sindh government should take immediate measures to drain out floodwater and ensure timely harvest of the sugarcane crop, so that wheat sowing could be started on time.
The federal sugar advisory board's meeting was held recently in Islamabad but it concluded without taking any decision. Bhugari reiterated the fear that if sugarcane is not cut from the fields without further delay, the farmers will not be able to sow the wheat crop.
He recalled that the Sindh government last year had set a target of cultivating wheat on 1.6 million hectares of land. But the government fell short of achieving its target as the crop was sown on 1.187 million hectares.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2022.
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