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December 8, 2018

Sindh announces sugarcane crushing season, sets price at Rs182/40kg

Business

December 8, 2018

KARACHI: Sindh government on Friday announced minimum sugarcane price at Rs182/40kg along with the crushing season, while Punjab government notified the price at Rs180/40kg.

Sources on Friday said the decision was taken after Sindh High Court ordered representatives of the Sindh government to appear for contempt of court on December 11, as it was mandatory for sugar mills to start cane crushing by November 30 under the Sugarcane Act.

Sindh secretary of agriculture issued two separate notifications for the commencement of the crushing season, and minimum sugarcane price of Rs182/40kg. However, the cane crushing season has been announced from back date of November 30th, which passed seven days ago.

The secretary also directed sugar mills in the province to pay Re0.50/40kg as quality premium for each 0.1 percent increase of sucrose content above 8.7 percent overall sucrose recovery.

Sindh government issued the notification on Friday, after the Punjab government notified minimum rate of Rs180/40kg. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which grows a very small quantity of sugarcane, has also officially announced the cane prices.

Kabool Muhammad Khatian, chairman, Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA), told The News that five mills had started their burners in the province. “Currently five sugar mills - Khairpur, Ranipur, Matiari, Sanghar, and Bandhi - have started their operations, which are purchasing cane at Rs130 to Rs140/40kg,” he added.

Out of 30 sugar mills in Sindh, 10 are facing money laundering cases in courts and they might be unable to start cane crushing this season.

Sugarcane production in lower parts of Sindh; Badin, Thatta and Mirpurkhas districts has decreased to around 15 percent only, growers said. Production in Sanghar, Ghotki and other upper Sindh districts would remain higher.

Mills would have sugarcane for 40 days only, he said, thus, mills wanted to increase the price of sugar before cane crushing.

Sindh Sugarcane Board, after constitution last month, held only one meeting under the chair of Sindh Minister for Agriculture Muhammad Ismail Rahoo.

Government calculated cane at Rs182/40kg, while growers demanded Rs198 a maund saying that input cost increased after rupee depreciation, and rates should be increased accordingly. Contrary to growers, Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (Pasma) has suggested sugarcane price of Rs130/40kg.

Pasma (Sindh Zone) demanded fixing rate of sugar and issuance of subsidy, though both matters belong to the federal government.

SCA has demanded that no occupier of a factory should purchase the cane through a middleman, and all purchases should be made directly from the cane grower. Chamber suggested that the price of cane should be paid to the cane grower by issuing payee's account cheque.

“If the payment under sub-section (4) as per Sugarcane Act is not made within 15 days of supply of the cane, mark-up at the rate as may be fixed by the government by notification, shall also be paid to the cane grower in addition to the principal amount,” proposed the SCA.

Mehmood Nawaz Shah, vice president, Sindh Abadgar Board, said under sugarcane act, starting crushing season for the sugar mills was mandatory by November 30, but they (sugar mills) were delaying deliberately. “Prior to 2009, mills were bound to start crushing season before October 31, which got changed by the mills,” he lamented.

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