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October 16, 2019

Farmers start harvesting sugarcane early due to demand for gur


October 16, 2019

MARDAN: In an effort to make more money, many farmers have started harvesting sugarcane crop a little earlier in view of the demand for fresh produce of jaggery (gur) in the market.

This marked the beginning of sugarcane crushing season in parts of the Mardan district. Usually the sugarcane crushing season starts in the last week of November in Mardan when the crop is ripe to yield good crop and get a better reward in the form of cash for their hard work.

But this time a number of growers in Mardan have started harvesting sugarcane crop a month earlier than usual to take advantage of the high prices of gur. According to farmers, five kilogram of gur is being sold for Rs500 nowadays. This has prompted many formers to begin harvesting their sugarcane crop.

Sugarcane crop is largely cultivated in Peshawar, Mardan, Swabi and Charsadda districts. The crushing season of the crop first starts in Charsadda in October. The crushing season in other districts starts in late November. A sugarcane crop dealer, Rosham Khan from Inayat Banda in Dheri village in Katlang tehsil has purchased sugarcane crop on 16 kanal of land. “I have rented a small shop in Mingora in Swat where I sell sugarcane in the season and also bring the crop to crushing mills to produce gur,” he said.

The dealer said he has purchased standing sugarcane crop in Patorako village in Katlang and Cheel Banda and Zarif Khan in Dheri village. He said that he purchased two kanal of sugarcane crop for Rs60,000 in Patorako.

“I have transported sugarcane in two pick-ups trucks to my shop in Mingora and sold it for Rs70,000. I have decided to crush the remaining sugarcane crop to make gur from it as it is in high demand in the market nowadays,” he explained.

“The other reason that I decided to harvest the crop is the fact that the crop was damaged by hailstorm and gusts a month ago. It caused widespread damage to the crop in Mardan,” he pointed out. “I have made reasonable investment and cannot afford to wait for another month to crush the crop as it would only increase the risk of more damage to the crop. The sugarcane is lying on the ground and it could also be damaged by the mice,” he elaborated.

Zarin Akbar from Akbarabad near Sheikh Maltoon town in Mardan city said that he has grown sugarcane crop on 44 kanals of land. He said that sugarcane crushing season has started prematurely as the prices of gur were high due to its demand. “The stock of gur of previous year has exhausted which has resulted in an unprecedented increase in its price. This prompted many farmers to start crushing sugarcane well over a month before the season,” he explained. He said that he preferred to sell standing crop instead of crushing it. “I do not have my own gur-making plant. Getting the crop harvested by labourers costs more money so I always opt for selling sugarcane in the fields,” he argued.

The farmer said that a dealer has offered him Rs50,000 per four kanals but he refused to take the offer. “I want Rs60,000 to cover my expenses I have incurred for looking after the crop and to earn some profit as well,” remarked Zarin Khan. Another farmer Zamir Kaka of Shamozai village did not agree with the idea of early harvest of sugarcane crop, saying the argument of harvesting before time to make more profit is based on assumption. “It is true that the price of five kg gur is Rs500, but the crop is not fully ripe and there is less carbohydrate in it which means those crushing the crop would have to use extra sugarcane juice to produce 80-90kg of gur. Suppose if a four-kanal of fully grown sugarcane crop, depending on the growth of the crop, produces 850 to 1,105kg of gur then a pre-mature crop would only produce 595-680kg of gur which means no extra profit,” he maintained.

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