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Sugarcane farmers call off protest after Shehbaz assurance

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Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on 24th December ordered to ensure that sugarcane is purchased for Rs. 180 per 40kg from farmers.

Addressing a meeting held in Lahore on Sunday to review the payment to farmers by sugar-mill owners, he also ordered for ensuring digital monitoring of the entire process of payments and taking strict action against mill-owners, who do not pay the full amount to growers.

According to him, blocking the highway to express their protest was not a desirable choice for the farmers and added that they had been waiting for almost 3 months to get the right price for the crop.

The chief minister said that action would be taken against the mill-owners if farmers were not paid the full price for their produce. He said that interests of the working class were very dear to him and that he would protect them at all costs.

The chief minister said that provincial ministers and secretaries should visit their assigned districts regularly to help farmers get their rights, instead of sitting in their offices.

President Kisan Ittehad group Khalid Khokhar said on the occasion that the farmers were grateful to the chief minister for protecting their interests. President Sugar Mill Association Javed Kyani said that they would ensure implementation of decisions regarding payments to sugarcane growers.

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Provincial Minister Bilal Yasin, Sheikh Allahuddin, spokesman for the Punjab government Malik Ahmed Khan, Chief Secretary, Inspector General Police and Farmer representatives attended the meeting.

Provincial Minister for Agriculture Naeem Akhtar Bhabha and President Sugar Mills Association Punjab Zone Ahsan Latif participated in the meeting through video-link. The Sugarcane Growers Joint Action Committee had called off its scheduled protest of blocking the National Highway in Hyderabad on December 23rd.

Khatian said the farmers started the protest to demand from the Sindh government to implement Rs. 182 per 40 kg rate of sugarcane, which the government had earlier notified.

The committee had withdrawn its call here on Friday at a press conference held in the office of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) in the light of the Sindh High Court’s order. “The court had ordered what the committee had been demanding from the Sindh government,” said SCA’s President Qabool Muhammad Khatian who was accompanied by the office bearers of Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB), Sindh Abadgar Ittehad (SAI) and Sindh Agriculture and Research Council (SARC).

He informed that a bench of Sindh High Court in Karachi last week had ordered the sugar mills to pay Rs. 172 per 40 kg to the growers and to deposit Rs. 10 per 40 kg in the court.

Read more: Woes of the sugarcane sector rise as farmers protest government rates

He added that the deposited amount would be either given to the farmers or returned to the mills after the court gave a judgment in the case. Khatian said the farmers started the protest to demand from the Sindh government to implement Rs. 182 per 40 kg rate of sugarcane, which the government had earlier notified.

According to him, blocking the highway to express their protest was not a desirable choice for the farmers and added that they had been waiting for almost 3 months to get the right price for the crop. SAB’s President Abdul Majeed Nizamani, SAI’s President Nawab Zubair Talpur and other farmers’ representatives were also present on the occasion.


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