Farmers threaten to set sugar cane on fire, shut mills
Rejecting the support prices of Punjab Government the farmers of Southern Punjab threatened to set their sugar cane produce on fire and shut the sugar mills if Punjab Government did not fix the sugar cane support price at Rs 300 per maund.
President of Anjuman Kashtkaran Punjab Peerzada Abdul Ali Zakir Usmani, leaders of Anjuman Tahaffuz Haqooq Kashtkaran Ahmed Yar Khakwani, Liaquat Sanpal Advocate, Latif Khan and Nawab Farooq Khaqn Khakwani said sugar cane season begins from November 15 but the government of Punjab did not announce sugar cane support price which resulted delay in sugar cane crushing in the province besides increase in retail prices of sweetener in parts of Punjab. They said rates of petroleum products and farm inputs have increased 40 to 50 percent while sugar cane rates were not reviewed keeping in view the cost of production. They alleged that sugar mills’ mafia developed a cartel and they are purchasing sugar cane at the lowest rate with deduction. They said farmers would prefer to burn their produce on being blackmailed at the hands of sugar mafia. They said that Sugar mafia has created artificial shortage of sugar in the market and it is fleecing the consumers. Now sugar is available at Rs 60 to 62 per kg in Punjab said farmers would not cultivate the wheat and they would not cut their sugar cane if Government did not redress their grievances.
They said crushing season is being delayed deliberately to blackmail the growers. Sugar mills should have to start sugar cane crushing from October last to produce the sugar for fulfilling the domestic requirements as well as to export, said an official of National Sugar cane Co-ordinator. The millers are legally bound to start sugar cane crushing by the start of November and help the growers prepare their land for next sowing of wheat crop across the country. So far the millers have not started any activity for sugar cane crushing as both growers and millers are using delaying tactics to get better prices of their products.
There are 80 sugar mills across the country some of these plants are not functional where as other plants are producing sugar at their optimal level. The Punjab province has 46 sugar mills; Sindh has 26 mills whereas 8 sugar mills are operational in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to fulfil the domestic requirements in the country. A better sugar cane yield of over 62 million tonnes and 5 million tonnes sugar production was expected this year because of favourable weather conditions through out the crop season and commodity price in the country.
Sugar cane output was recorded at 62.7 million tonnes and sugar production of 5 million tonnes during last year as against the domestic requirements of 4.2 million tonnes. Domestic per capita sugar consumption was decreased and average consumption was recorded at 21 kilograms sugar per annum. The government has also allowed to export the sugar and about 9,500 tonnes of commodity was exported so far and it was expected that 1.5 tonnes sugar export targets to be achieved. Punjab Sugar cane Commissioner said government of the province has directed the millers to start sugar cane crushing within official fixed time. He said 44 out of 46 mills are operational. The government is intending to allow around 500,000 tonnes of sugar in view of better stocks.