KARACHI: The Sindh government has yet to notify sugarcane support price and sugar production date while growers are eagerly eyeing buyers with fully matured crop, said a growers’ leader on Tuesday.
“According to the Sugar Factories Control Act of 1950, all the sugar mills in the province are bound to start production between October 1 and 30 every year,” said Syed Mehmood Nawaz Shah, vice president of the Sindh Abadgar Board.
Shah said as per the law the government should have announced the production date by 16 of this month.
He said the government has held two meetings with growers and mill owners on the board in this regard.
However, both the meeting ended up with no conclusion as what should be the next production date and what should be the support price for cane in current season. "The government has summoned meetings on September 29 and October 13," he said.
He said Ali Nawaz Khan Maher, the provincial agriculture minister, told the meetings that the Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah will take such decisions. However, the minister didn’t know when the decision was expected.
“Sugar mill owners are the beneficiaries of the delay in notification, while growers bear losses as weight of the matured cane is lost with the passage of time,” Shah said.
He said the growers are expecting the government to announce increased support price for cane, as the price has been unchanged at Rs182/40 kg in the last three years though the cost of production escalated manifolds. "We urged the government to announce new support price at Rs212/40kg for the current season,” he said.
Ex-factory sugar price surged to Rs55-56/kg at present from Rs46/kg a few months ago.
Last year, mill-owners paid Rs172/40kg to growers against the notified price of Rs182/40 kg.
Shah said the growers moved the court to obtain the difference from the mills, “the case is in the court.” The last year’s price was inclusive of Rs12/40kg subsidy from the government.
Earlier this month, the government clearly told growers and mill owners that it would pay no subsidy this year.
Shah of Sindh Abadgar Board said Matiari Sugar Mills decided to start production from Tuesday’s night. He said he also heard that Sanghar Sugar Mills will start production after October 24. Every year, around 30 mills crush sugarcanes in Sindh, which has an estimated annual cane production of 18.85 million tons and of which 1.79 million tons of sugar are produced with an average production at 9.5 kilogram from 100kg of sugarcane.