Sugarcane price row delays wheat harvesting in Sindh

Karachi: Price row between sugarcane growers and the owners of sugar mills has been resulting in delaying in harvesting of wheat crop in Sindh province.

Wheat crop could not be sown on hundreds of thousands of acres in Sindh, as the growers are not harvesting their ready sugarcane crop because sugar mills do not offer them good rates. Normally, the sugarcane harvesting season starts in Sindh by mid October and wheat is sown on cleared out lands by the end of October. Sugar mills in Sindh also start their crushing season from November. However, the whole process this time is delayed as the growers are not ready to harvest their sugarcane crop in many areas and due to non-supply of sugarcane many sugar mills are facing no-cane situation.

The Sindh government has fixed official procurement rate of sugarcane at Rs180 per 40 kilograms; however, the growers are not ready to accept it. They argue that prices of all agri-inputs have risen and they could not sell their produce at throwaway price. They demand a rate of Rs220 per 40 kilograms, saying even firewood in Sindh is being sold at Rs350 per 40 kilograms.

Due to this price row the crushing season is facing inordinate delay, resulting in rise in price of sugar in the province. Sugar available at Rs54 per kilogram by October end is now being sold at Rs62 in urban and Rs65 per kilogram in rural areas. It is the ordinary consumer that is suffering due to price row between growers and the millers.

It is feared if this issue remained unresolved, it would be very difficult to sow wheat crop of at least 2million acres of land in Sindh province. The growers of cotton and red chilies have already sown wheat on their vacant lands after harvesting of their crops; however, the lands of sugarcane growers are not ready for wheat sowing as they have yet to harvest their ready sugarcane crop. The provincial government should intervene into the matter so as to solve this problem in the best interest of growers, millers and general public.

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