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November 17,2015

Cane crushing delayed as pricing eludes solution

Salman Siddiqui
KARACHI: The vexed issue of sugarcane pricing eludes solution on Monday as growers and millers, who separately held meetings with a provincial minister to decide on the right price, proposed their rates, which were unacceptable to all stakeholders, sources said.
It is almost certain that crushing operation for the season is likely to be delayed after three inconclusive meetings between growers, millers and the government officials.
Growers are more worried as their crops have been matured. Last year, the government notified the production season’s start from November 20, 2014, they added.
“Farmers have recommended the minister to fix support price at Rs230/40kg [while] sugar mill-owners proposed Rs160/40kg,” said Deedar Hussain Bhutto, director information at the Sindh Agriculture Department.
This was the third meeting during the current season.
Last year, the government had kept the support price unchanged at Rs182/40kg. The price was same for the third consecutive year.
The agriculture minister Ali Nawaz Khan Mahar informed growers that he would soon take an appointment with the Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah to resolve the issues.
“The minister may meet chief minister in a day or two...the government is expected to issue the notification within this week,” Bhutto said.
Last year, mill owners had paid Rs172/40kg to growers against the notified Rs182/40 kg. The case of unpaid Rs10/40kg is still in a court of law.
The paid support price of Rs172/40 kg was inclusive of Rs12/40kg subsidy from the government.
Earlier, the government told growers and millers in clear words that it would pay no subsidy on cane this year.
Around 30 mills produce sugar in the province.
This year, the government estimated the cane production at 18.85 million tons.
Sugar production may stand at 1.79 million tons, considering an average production at 9.5 kilogram from 100 kilogram cane in the province.
Growers were expecting a notification of support price and date of the production season start at the end of the meeting.
Syed Mehmood Nawaz, vice president at Sindh Abadgar Board said growers told the minister that they would not attend such meetings in the future as they can’t influence cane pricing. “The minister always calls a meeting that ends up with no conclusion, and the matter is always told to be resolved by the chief minister, but when no one knows,” Nawaz said.

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