Sugar millers express concern over cane shortage

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) has informed the Ministry of Industries that the millers were facing serious shortage of raw material and could shutdown their operations in the near future.

In a letter addressed to Industries & Production Minister Muhammad Hammad Azhar, titled ‘Non-Availability of Sugarcane due to High Prices Demanded by Farmers’, PSMA Chairman Iskander Khan stated that the farmers were trying to manipulate their position by holding cane supplies.

The copies of PSMA letter have also been forwarded to National Food Security Minister Syed Fakhar Imam and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar.

The PSMA has said that sugar mills all over the country have commenced the sugarcane crushing season for 2020-2021 as per the directions by the respective provincial governments. However, growers have not started sugarcane harvesting in most regions in the country.

“The farmers are demanding high sugarcane price compared to the government notified sugarcane price of Rs200 per 40kg,” the letter read. “Owing to the current scarce supply of sugarcane, it is feared that the sugar mills facing shortage of cane will be forced to shut down their units within a week.”

The association asked the industries minister to intervene in the matter and ensure regular supply of sugarcane at notified rates so that the commodity could be provided to the consumers at reasonable rates.

The PSMA warned that high sugarcane rates would eventually lead to higher cost of sugar production… “but the sugar mills will be blamed for the increase in prices”.

Meanwhile, talking to this scribe, I&P Minister Hamad Azhar maintained that there was no shortage of sugarcane in Punjab. “When the government negotiates with mills on high prices of sugar, they say that it’s a result of demand and supply, but when it comes to the pricing of sugarcane for farmers, they [millers] depart from the same logic.”

He said that the mills did not intend on shutting down, adding that “even the PSMA Punjab was unaware of PSMA head office’s letter”.

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Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]
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