Growers, millers lock horns over sugarcane crushing

Delay in crushing season may adversely hit wheat crop


Danish Nafees November 22, 2022

HYDERABAD:

Agriculture sector stakeholders have expressed fears that the ongoing conflict between sugarcane growers and sugar mills owners over starting the crushing season could affect sugar production and also delay wheat cultivation.

“Wheat is sown after the sugarcane crop is harvested,” the Sindh Agriculture Chamber Secretary General Zahid Hussain Bhurgari said, explaining, delay in sugarcane crushing means delay in wheat cultivation. “This in turn will lead to flour and bread crisis,” he said.

He said that sugarcane growers are worried over delay in crushing season. The sugar mills owners have not started buying their produce.

The mill owners represented by Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) are demanding permission from the government to export about two million tonnes of sugar. PSMA wants to off-load its stock to buy fresh crop of sugarcane at less than the officially notified rate of Rs300 per 40kg.

So far among the 32 sugar mills of Sindh only Ansari, Tharparkar, Kiran and Chambarr sugar mills have started buying and crushing sugarcane, while the owners of rest of the mills are waiting for the final decision of PSMA.

When contacted, Sindh Abadgar Board Senior Vice President, Mehmood Nawaz Shah told The Express Tribune that SAB has proposed rate of Rs321 per 40kg for sugarcane.

He claimed that this year, sugarcane was cultivated on about 0.6 million acres, but due to the delay in the crushing season there is a fear of a 15 per cent decrease in the production of sugar.

A recent meeting chaired by Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in Islamabad to resolve the cane price issue ended without results. Now a meeting has been called again on November 24, in which the presence of the federal minister for food security has been declared mandatory.

Nawaz Shah said that Punjab has notified sugarcane rate at Rs300 per 40kg, while the federal government has also approved PSMA’s request to export sugar but still the mills have not started the crushing.

Bhurgari said that each year there is a conflict between the sugarcane growers and sugar mills owners over the crushing season and prices and Sindh government fails to resolve it.

He said that only one week is favourable for sowing wheat, after that wheat cannot be cultivated, delay in sugarcane harvesting will affect wheat cultivation, Bhurgari said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2022.

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