HYDERABAD: The government-fixed support price for the sugarcane crop has annoyed the growers, forcing them to resort to protests and challenge the move in high court.
To their utter surprise, the Sindh government set the price at Rs155 per maund (40kg), 15% lower than Rs182 expected by the farmers.
“The move is unprecedented and illegal,” asserted Sindh Chamber of Agriculture President Dr Syed Nadeem Qamar at a press conference on Friday.
According to him, the government had promised at a meeting with representatives of the sugar mills and farmers two months ago that it would fix the rate at Rs182.
However, he added, it kept delaying the release of a notification until the Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered it a week ago. “The Sindh government is exploiting the farmers to provide favour to the mills,” he alleged.
According to the Sindh Sugar Factories Control Act, the cane crushing season begins from mid-October and lasts until mid-June. Sugar mills are required to begin cane procurement from the start of crushing season while the government is supposed to notify the rates earlier.
However, the law is flouted as the government delays the announcement of the price and the mills get liberty to fix a rate of their own.
“So far only four mills out of 37 in the province have started crushing. This is their tactic to put on hold the purchase of cane crop so that the growers can be forced to sell at a lower price,” said Qamar.
Blaming the agriculture ministry for what he said was a lack of agricultural research and crop policy, Qamar demanded resignation of the agriculture minister and secretary. He warned of taking the matter to the SHC if Rs182 was not set as the support price.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2014.