HYDERABAD: Anxious about the delay in sugarcane crushing and the conflict between farmers and mill owners over the sugarcane price, the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) has urged the provincial government to immediately hold a meeting to settle both the issues.
The SCA, which is a lobbying group for farmers, held a meeting on Sunday in Hyderabad which was attended by farmers’ representatives in Karachi, Sukkur, Sanghar and other districts through video link.
The chamber also appealed to the federal government to help address farmers’ concerns. Presiding over the meeting, SCA Vice-President Dr Syed Shahnawaz Shah demanded the price of Rs200 per 40 kilogrammes for the sugarcane crop be set and the start of the crushing season begin from October 15.
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The federal government is paying Rs35 billion in subsidies to the sugar mills for sugar export on the condition that they pay arrears, which amount to billions of rupees, to the sugarcane growers and start the crushing from November 1, Dr Shah said. He mentioned that under the Sindh Sugar Factories Control Act, the mills are stipulated to start the crushing from October 15. “The provincial government should call a meeting of the farmers and mill owners and try to resolve the issue with a consensus,” the SCA vice-president suggested.
The growers also expressed concerns over the export of subsidised fertiliser to India. They claimed that the fertiliser companies, due to the export, have increased the price of fertiliser by Rs50 and it now costs Rs1,350 per bag in the local market. The farmers maintained that the price of a fertiliser bag could be reduced to Rs1,000 in the country if the federal government proscribed its export. The growers also lamented the export of subsidised wheat to India, which, according to them, was tantamount to crushing the local farmers.