Pakistan Agri Forum’s Chairman Muhammad Ibrahim Mughal has urged the government to fix the minimum procurement price of sugarcane crop for the current season at Rs 225 per maund in the central Punjab and Rs 240 in Rahim Yar Khan and Sindh. Higher price in Sindh and Rahim Yar Khan areas is being asked due to high sucrose level in sugarcane of these areas which leads to higher recovery rate for the mills, he said while talking to a select group of journalists here on Saturday.
Mughal claimed that the Punjab government had notified support price for sugarcane at Rs 164 per maund on January 6, and since then there had been a 25 to 130 percent raise in the prices of urea fertilisers, diesel and electricity etc. So keeping in view the higher input cost, the government should notify Rs 225 as the minimum procurement price for sugarcane, he suggested.
Agri Forum Chairman regretted that the sugarcane crop had been politicised by the politicians to exploit growers and the consumers of sugar. He said majority of the sugar millers were politician who think unjustified deductions in weight, adopting delaying tactics in payments and other such dishonest methods with growers as their right.
He said the government should adopt the method of paying the growers according to the sucrose content in his sugarcane crop. He claimed that growers from Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalpur could get eight billion rupees per annum additionally if their crop was bought according to the sucrose content. This money at present was going in to the pockets of the sugar mill owners.
Mughal assessed this year sugar mills would buy around 50 million tons of sugarcane and its price at existing market rates is Rs 188 billion. Out of this sugarcane they could produce 4.5 million tons of sugar and its price come to Rs 235 billion. It means millers would buy sugarcane from the growers on deferred payments and sell it on cash and earn around Rs 50 billion by selling sugar and other by products, he claimed.
He, however, also questioned that why the Punjab government had appointed Ishaq Dar as head of the team which would be discussing the support price of sugarcane while the man had nothing to do with agriculture. Mughal, while presenting various suggestions to improve the lot of sugarcane growers, said that the Cane Procurement Receipt (CPR) should be given the status of cheque and it should be made binding on the millers to pay to growers within 15 days of the procurement.
He also said latest foolproof weighing bridges should be installed at mills to avoid any dishonesty with the growers, adding that millers should avoid illegal and unjustifiable deductions. AFP Head also criticised the government’s policy of appointing cane commissioner. He alleged that nine cane commissioners were changed during last seven years as millers only support that person who protect their interest while the commissioner who speak in favour of growers is transferred next day.
He said price of sugar for the end consumers should remain between Rs 60 to 65 per kilogram if the price of sugarcane is fixed at Rs 225 per maund. Mughal said the government should also support the sugar mills by buying 950MW electricity from the millers and add it to the national system for reducing loadshedding.
He also questioned “why our sugar mills were producing only two by-products from sugarcane while internationally 12 types of by-products are being produced?” He said Pakistan could export one million tons of sugar annually to Iran and Afghanistan besides 500,000 tons of Gur to earn precious foreign exchange. Mughal was also all praise for the sitting Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) Chairman Javed Kiyani and observed that such a person should continue for another three years term too.