News Analysis |
Exporters of kinnow and other perishable goods have sought governments’ intervention to save commodities worth billions of rupees stuck up near Ranipur due to an ongoing protest of sugarcane growers. Goods transporters on Monday claimed that around 12,000 vehicles have been stuck due to the protests in Sindh.
“The protestors have blocked roads with tractor trolleys and sugarcane making it impossible for transporters to move due to huge traffic jams”, Noor Khan Niazi, President, Sindh Goods Carriers Association told Daily Times.
President of Sindh Abadgar Board- after a meeting with the provincial minister- said that farmers were assured that any viable solution to the issue would be sorted out within two days.
Industry insiders stated that around 600 containers loaded with kinnow worth Rs. 1 billion have been stuck up due to the protests. “If the timely action is not taken to clear the way for the containers the commodity is likely to perish”, Ahmed warned adding “already three days have gone since the containers are unable to reach Karachi or Port Qasim”.
The containers are loaded with 13,500 tons of kinnow for export purposes and if the containers are not cleared in time the country would be forced to suffer further losses on account of exports as the export target would be revised downward. Export of kinnow was commenced from December 1st, 2017 and the export target during the current year has been set at 250,000 tons.
The kinnow sector is experiencing numerous issues in the export of kinnow, which led to a consistent decline in exports since the year 2014-15. 375,000 tons of kinnow was exported in 2014-15. However, even the export target of 300,000 tons could not be attained during last year’s season being limited only to only 280,000 tons.
“The situation is so bad that even last year’s payments to farmers have not been made by the sugarcane mills till now,” the protestors contend.
The production of kinnow during the current season is anticipated to be between 1,900,000 tons to 2,000,000 tons. According to relevant persons the decline in the export of kinnow can be attributed to a lack of interest on the part of the Government of Punjab as well as the high cost of production, stiff competition and various trade barriers imposed by Iran, Europe and Russia”
Attaining a export target of 250,000 tons during the current season would largely depend upon favourable weather conditions and political stability in the country while frequent set-in processions and protest movements would have a bad impact on trade activities and it’s likely continuation during the current export season of kinnow would make it quite difficult to achieve the desired export target, it is feared.
So far more than 20,000 tons of kinnow have been exported to Russia, Dubai, Philippines, Sri-Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Canada , Mauritius ,Bangladesh, Malaysia ,Sri Lanka and UAE. Fears are mounting that if the current blockade of goods carriers continues the farmers would suffer huge financial losses.
The sugarcane protests are spread across both Sindh and Punjab. Hundreds of farmers blocked the national highway and have disrupted traffic by staging a sit-in against the low price of sugarcane being enforced by the sugarcane mills. This crisis threatens to explode across the national economy as it impacts the transportation industry.
The containers are loaded with 13,500 tons of kinnow for export purposes and if the containers are not cleared in time the country would be forced to suffer further losses on account of exports.
In Sindh, the protesters, led by Sindh Abadgar Leader Lal Bux Siyal, Sindh Agriculture Research Council Leader Mithal Khuhro, Jamal Mehmood Khuhro, Panjal Khuhro, and Fida Hussain demanded that the government should fix the sugarcane rate at Rs. 182 per 4kg and that the sugar mills in Sindh pay their outstanding dues from last year. While in Punjab, the protesters were led by Haroon Awan and Malik Abdul Razik.
Already farmers have started burning their crops in Punjab in a protest against government indifference. They said that mills were paying low rates to farmers and were also reluctant in making payments on time. “The situation is so bad that even last year’s payments to farmers have not been made by the sugarcane mills till now,” the protestors contend.
They urged the sugarcane farmers to not sell sugarcane to the mills at low rates as this would harm the anti-sugar mill’s movement in the nation. However, on Monday, Abdul Majeed Nizamani, President of Sindh Abadgar Board- after a meeting with the provincial minister- said that farmers were assured that any viable solution to the issue would be sorted out within two days.