Home Global Village Woes of the sugarcane sector rise as farmers protest government rates

Woes of the sugarcane sector rise as farmers protest government rates

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The Sargodha district administration has directed the sugar mill owners to ensure payment of sugarcane to growers within forty days and no tolerance would be accepted for rates below Rs. 180 per 40 kg. Deputy Commissioner Liaqat Ali Chatha said while chairing a meeting of farmers and Sugar mill Association for meeting their demands regarding Sugarcane rates and deductions by the mill owners.

He said that Rs. 180 per 40 kilogram sugarcane rate had already been decided by the government and strict compliance on rates would be ensured. He added that growers and mill owners should join hands to continue supply of sugarcane and in this regard, internal rates should also be decided by themselves with mutual understanding of both parties. He said that concerns of mill owners would be removed after export of sugar and stressed that farmers should be given their due rights according to government instructions.

Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah said that his government had vowed to give additional subsidy for exporting sugar so that crushing season of sugar mills could be started, but the federal government had not complied.

Farmers are demanding that the Punjab government ensure timely initiation of the sugarcane-crushing season by the sugar mills in Punjab and payment of fixed price announced by it for 2017-18.

Rai Farooq, a farmer, told a publication that the Punjab government had fixed the sugarcane price at Rs. 180 per 40 kg for the current season, but mill owners were enforcing the farmers to sell their yields at Rs. 160 per 40 kg. Many mills, he said, had not yet started crushing of the sugarcane as they were insisting to purchase the crop at low rate, which was an injustice to the farmers.

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He claimed that the sugar mills’ administrations purchased the sugarcane on the condition that they would make a payment at the rate of Rs. 160 per 40 kg. Delay in the crushing of sugarcane by some sugar mills would affect the cultivation process of wheat, he added. Shedding light on another issue with the Sugar Mills, Sher Ali, another farmer, said that the Punjab government had asked the sugar mills to start the crushing season from November 25th but they started crushing in December.

When the farmers demanded payment of sugarcane at the fixed price, some mills shut down the crushing, he added.

Farmers are demanding that the Punjab government ensure timely initiation of the sugarcane-crushing season by the sugar mills in Punjab and payment of fixed price announced by it for 2017-18.

Meanwhile sugarcane growers withdrew their protest call after getting an assurance from Deputy Commissioner Liaqat Ali Chatha that their complaints about less rates of their produce would be addressed. The DC in a meeting assured the growers that they would be given government approved rates for their crop. The sugar mills representatives were also present in the meeting.

In Karachi last month, a farmers’ association protesting at Bilawal Chowrangi had attempted to move towards the Bilawal House following which police used force to disperse the demonstrators.

The farmers were protesting against the sugarcane rate set by the government. Due to security reasons, both roads in front of Bilawal House were closed for traffic.

On November 29th, the provincial government, after a month-long delay, fixed the official procurement price of sugarcane and announced commencing its crushing season.

Read more: Farmers threaten agitation if burden of taxes is not eased

The price at which the crop will be made available to buyers was fixed at Rs. 182 per 40kg (maund). The decisions were taken by the provincial Sugar Cane Control Board in a meeting presided over by Sindh Agriculture and Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal.  However, despite the fixing of the price, the sugar mills are yet to begin crushing the crop.

Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah said that his government had vowed to give additional subsidy for exporting sugar so that crushing season of sugar mills could be started, but the federal government had not complied.

Deputy Commissioner Liaqat Ali Chatha said while chairing a meeting of farmers and Sugar mill Association for meeting their demands regarding Sugarcane rates and deductions by the mill owners.

Speaking to the press at First Tripartite Labour Conference at a local hotel, he said that the Sindh government was sincere with sugarcane growers and had notified a support rate of Rs. 182 per 40 kg for which the Sindh government also issued the notification

He further stated that the federal government in the last Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting had decided to give a subsidy of Rs. 10.7 per kg for export of sugar. He added that the Sindh cabinet, in order to resolve the issue between the sugarcane farmers and the millers, decided to give an additional subsidy of Rs. 9.3 per kg but the federal government had not taken action in this regard.


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