Ministry of Industries and Production (MoI&P) on Friday discussed ways and means to create a Research and Development (R&D) fund for the sugar industry. Sources in sugar industry told Business Recorder that the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on December 7, 2015 approved a cash support for incidental and freight (subsidy) @Rs 13 per kg for export of sugar and directed that the MoI&P should propose an appropriate percentage of the subsidy amount to be committed for Research & Development (R&D).
The sources said, there are inefficient sugar mills having low sugar recovery. Hence, the spirit of the ECC decision to extend cash support for incidental and freight (subsidy) aims to improve productivity of such inefficient sugar mills. According to sources, the stakeholders have agreed on creation of R&D fund in the Ministry of Industries and Production to finance following R&D activities: (i) technology up-gradation in sugar industry; (ii) improvement / innovation in sugar manufacturing processes;(iii) energy generation using baggasse;(iv) modern cane breeding and variety improvement; (v) environmental awareness;(vi) growers training;(vii) still labour for farm and research institute;(viii) feature R&D needs of the sugar industry;(ix) reducing transportation cost and ;(x) improving the quality of sugar export.
Sugar mills across Punjab may get basic seed from the Seed Research Institute, Faisalabad, multiply at their own farm under keen supervision and then supply the seed of high sugar yielding varieties among the farmers of their respective localities at economical rates. This will lead to availability of new approved varieties to growers all over the province. Composition of R& D fund will be as per decision of federal and provincial governments.
Punjab has also proposed that the proportionate composition of R&D fund may be as follows: research 40% and development 60%. For the research purpose 10% of Sugarcane Development Fund (Cess Fund) deposited in the Finance Department through Food Department will be used. The meeting presided over by the Secretary Industries also discussed collection of Rs 0.5/ 40 Kg in addition to cess fund from sugar mills and an equal amount by the Federal Government for the fund.
The fund will be used for proliferation of all approved varieties, up-gradation of existing sugarcane research Institute. R&D fund will be administered by a body comprising of representatives from Federal and all Provincial Governments, PSMA, growers , DGs Agricultural (Research and Extension) of each province. The Engineering Development Board (EDB), in its comments, has submitted the following recommendations : (i) R&D fund should be obtained from the Sugarcane Development Cess Fund (SDCF) and Sale Tax on sugar;(ii) the cess amount shall be shared equally by the sugar mills and the growers selling sugar cane to the sugar mills;(iii) sugar R&D institutional network may be set up in each division for sugarcane research ;(iv) the Board of each such institute may consist of representatives of Sugarcane growers, PSMA and the Government and ;(v) Fund for research from Sugarcane Cess be released to the relevant sugar research institute. PSMA maintains that Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), and Sugarcane Research and Development Board under the Government of Punjab are already working on the subject issue.
Source: Business Recorder