Though under the Sugar Factories Control Act 1950, the sugarcane crushing season should start in October yet with the exception of a few sugar mills, over 40 plus sugar mills in Punjab have postponed the crushing till November 26 after (10th of Muharram), industry sources told Business Recorder on Sunday.
They said majority of the sugar mills have lit their boilers but they have not started the crushing process despite the fact that the Punjab government announced purchase price of sugarcane at Rs 170 per 40 maund on October 30, 2012 for the crushing season of 2012-13.
Sources said that the farmers were demanding higher cane support price, for the prices of inputs have increased by 26 to 27 percent as against last year, the millers were delaying the crushing so that farmers sell their produce under pressure as they had to vacate the field for sowing another Rabi crop after harvesting the year-long sugarcane.
They said that growers would be harvesting a good sugarcane crop due to late monsoon rains this years in the country, whereas 0.5 million to 0.6 million tons left over sugar of the previous season is still in the market,
In these circumstances, the millers are not in a hurry to start crushing season otherwise the fresh arrival of sweetener in the domestic outlets would lower the prevalent prices which are around Rs 50 plus per kilogram, they added. An agronomist and President Agri-Forum Pakistan told this scribe that the inordinate delay in cane crushing by sugar mills would affect the wheat sowing as sugarcane crop is standing over 1.8 million acres in the province. If the crop is harvested in time, the farmers could sow wheat crop over at least 0.6 million acres, he added.
He said the farmers were harvesting major Kharif crops rice, cotton and sugarcane, they need cash to buy inputs and sowing Rabi crops including wheat, canola, mustards, grams, vegetables, sunflower, fodder etc.