Sugarcane prices issue: Growers threaten to stop cultivation

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KARACHI (Dec 15) : Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that his government was making all out efforts to protect the interests of the growers, therefore he wants a workable solution to end the deadlock between the sugarcane growers and mill owners on the issue of the price.

This he said this while presiding over a meeting of sugarcane growers here at the CM House today. The meeting was attended by Minister for Home & Agriculture Sohail Anwar Siyal, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, Secretary Agriculture Sajjid jamal ABro, DG Agriculture Extension Hidayatullah Chhajjro, Noor Mohammad Baloch DG Agriculture Research, Agha Zahiruddin Cane Commissioner and the growers were Syed Nadeem Shah, Mohammad Nawaz Shah, Qabool Mohammad Khatian, Zahid Bhurgri, Nabi Bux Sathio, Nawab Zubair Talpur, Sharif Nizamani and Khalid Masood.

The chief minister said that he and his party have always worked with grower to get them better prices of their crops. “We always protect your interests and rights,” he said and added that the sugar mill owners were of the view that they could not start crushing because they had surplus sugar of last year stocks in their godowns. “This is why I talked to the prime minister and took up the issue in the CCI, the CCI approved a subsidy of Rs10.70/kg for sugar export,” he said went on saying that just after returning from CCI meeting he called the provincial cabinet meeting which also approved additional subsidy of Rs9.30/kg for sugar export and then the millers started crushing. “The crushing has started with me constant and untiring struggle,” he said.

The Cane Commissioner told the chief minister that there were 38 sugar mills in the province, of them six were not going to operate this year and 32 have started crushing. “They are purchasing sugarcane and growers are giving them cane at Rs130 to RS140, the price varies from district to district,” he said.

The growers said that the price of Rs130 to Rs140 does not suit them. They said that they have worked expenditures on the cultivation of a 40-kg sugarcane and it comes to over Rs70. The harvesting, transportation from field to the mill and wastage also cost them another Rs40/45 kg. “In this way, we are either selling our crop at loss or at breakeven despite investing huge expenditures on the sugarcane cultivation,” they said and threatened that the cultivation of sugarcane would decline next year and then it would come to zero because the growers have decided to switch over to other crops.

The growers accepted that some political parties were trying to capitalize their protests. “We are not a political party and we are only struggling for the rights of small, medium and big growers so that they can get better price of their crop,” they said and also admitted that the protest and sit-in at the houses of party leaders and others was not ethically right. The chief minister appreciated them for their clear and candid views.

The growers said that this year sugarcane has been cultivated over an area of 700,000 acres and production would be around 420 tons of sugarcane. They proposed the chief minister to announce a subsidy of Rs12/40 kg for growers and asked the millers to pay Rs170 per 40 kg to the growers. On this the chief minister said that he would consider their proposal if they show some flexibility on the price of the cane. “We want to end this deadlock at any cost,” he said and added that the financial strength of the provincial government was not so strong that it start giving subsidies but anyhow “we would sit with you [growers]again after working out some proposals,” he concluded.

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