IN consultation with growers’ bodies, the Sindh government has managed to fix the sugarcane rate for 2016-17 at Rs182/40kg, coupled with an undertaking by sugar millers to commence cane crushing from Nov 15.
Growers and millers agreed they won’t challenge the government’s notified rate.
For the first time, Sindh has come up with its own sugarcane rate, instead of following Punjab, with a Rs2 raise in sugarcane price given its better sucrose recovery.
This understanding — reached between the stakeholders at the Oct 7 meeting held in Karachi – was contrary to the litigation over the cane price of Rs172/40kg, notified for the 2015-16 season. The case is still pending adjudication.
Growers said if they had not agreed to the Rs182/40kg rate and insisted for a price of Rs225-200/40kg, nothing tangible could have been done. The sugar millers would have delayed the crushing season at the cost of the sugarcane producers.
When sugar factories delay crushing till the fag end of the season, farmers go for rapid harvesting of the crop, which provides an opportunity to millers to bargain for a lower price.
Growers want a ban on the inter-provincial movement of sugarcane. Last year, as per reports, an average price of Rs190-200/40kg was paid to farmers, by Punjab’s sugar mills, on the border of Sindh.
Growers and millers agreed they won’t challenge the government’s notified rate
Growers want a timely start of the crushing season as, otherwise, there are delays in the sowing of wheat on around 10-15pc of the sugarcane producing area, which reduces per acre yield.
Pakistan Sugar Mills Association’s (PSMA) Sindh chapter insists that cost of a kilogramme of sugar does not allow them to pay Rs190 or Rs200 per 40kg as demanded by farmers.
Growers argue that millers never share their cost of production, on 1kg of sweetener in black and white, with either them or the government.
They reject the move for the deregulation of sugarcane prices as indicated by the federal ministry of industries and production.
The meeting, convened by the ministry on Oct 14, to discuss the proposal, was postponed until the first week of November.
Sindh’s growers, in their informal chat with Sindh’s Agriculture Secretary Saeed Magnejo, told him in clear terms that they did not approve of the deregulation plan.
“Will the federal government leave everything to the open market? Does it mean that it will not regulate the import/export of sugar?
In such a case, millers will always be exporting if they find the international market more attractive and if they have surplus sugar”, says Mahmood Nawaz Shah of Sindh Abadgar Board.
This season as well, they are seeking permission to export sugar.
Sindh Chamber of Agriculture’s General Secretary Nabi Bux Sathio says that Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have rejected idea of deregulation; then how could Sindh agree to it?
He believes that deregulation won’t benefit the farmers and says that in the present case as well, millers will always be able to win concessions of rebate, subsidy and permission for sugar export.