The continued silence on the
part of sugar millers in Punjab about the exact date of the commencement
of the crushing season is creating resentment among the growers as the
delay in crushing season is expected to hit the end of the month of
November. The crushing or processing season of the sugarcane crop as per
the agricultural experts' view is long overdue. In Pakistan, the season
starts earlier in Sindh and later on in Punjab. Given the fact that the
Sindh based sugar mills have given the D-Day for November 15 for the
crushing and procurement of the standing sugarcane crop from the
growers; traditionally Punjab on account of a different temperature
gradient from Sindh with reference to the sugarcane crop has always
followed Sindh starting the crushing season at least 7 to 15 days later.
Here, it is pertinent to note
that the 15 lakh and 20 thousands acres of land presently under the
sugarcane crop in the Punjab province has to be cleared up and prepared
for the wheat crop. The growers are expected to sow the wheat seed by
November 15. Technically the growers cannot dismantle the crop before
the crushing season as placing the harvest for a longer period runs the
risk of the crop being wasted away. Going by the current year trends it
is expected that the crushing season in Punjab would not commence before
the end of the November.
In this context, sugar mills'
representatives, when contacted, anticipated that the crushing would
follow the Sindh schedule that of one week later. Here, it is important
to note that Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) leadership is out
of the country and was not available for comments. Going by the general
anticipation that this time the wheat crushing date would be finally
fixed, the absence of the sugar industry leadership softly indicates
towards no decision wise breakthrough in the near future. That strongly
suggests that the status quo would continue for the time being.
The Punjab government sources,
when contacted, said that the crushing season could be delayed upyto
December. These sources criticized what they called delaying tactics of
the industry to allow the plant to increase its sucrose content.
As per the agriculture
department estimates, the sugarcane yield is estimated to be
approximately 32 million tones as against 33 million last year in
Punjab. Likewise, the cultivation acreage has also decreased to 15 lakh
and 20 thousand acres this year from 15 lakh 93 thousands acres last
year in Punjab - the year 2003-04 estimates of cultivated area being 18
lakh and 17 thousands acres.
The sources feel that the
continued tug-of-war between the growers and the industrialists would
gradually shy away the growers from cultivating sugarcane in greater
volumes. Here, it is pertinent to note that the farmer representatives
have already taken exception the lack of any fixed date for the crushing
season in the province besides the current implementation and what they
call lacunas in the Factory Act 1950, which they feel puts the growers
in a disadvantageous situation.
On the Pakistan level,
sugarcane accounts for 3.6 per cent of the total agricultural produce
and 0.8 per cent of the GDP, respectively. T prepared are often
prejudice, either aimed at protecting the interest of assemblers or the
dealers (importers) but certainly ignoring the most important
stakeholder, the customer. The single factor supporting this argument is
the Žon moneyŪ being charged by the car dealers, which is also tax-free.On
the Pakistan level, sugarcane accounts for 3.6 per cent of the total
agricultural produce and 0.8 per cent of the GDP, respectively. There
has been general decrease in the acreage under cultivation all over the
country particularly in Sindh where the payments to sugarcane growers
for the 2003-04 crop were delayed by the millers and eventually the
growers moved to other crops like sunflower in Sindh, the area of which
has increased substantially and some area of sugarcane was also taken by
cotton crop being the major competing crop of Kharif season.