HYDERABAD: The Sin­dh Agriculture Depart­ment notified on Tuesday the sugarcane price of Rs182 per 40 kilograms for 2017-18.

Mills are supposed to commence crushing on Dec 1 as per another notification issued on the same day.

The Sindh government will also give a subsidy of Rs9.30 per kg on sugar exports, according to a cabinet decision taken on Monday in Karachi.

Originally, the Sindh Sugarcane Control Board, which met on Nov 28 under the chairmanship of Sindh Agriculture Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, had decided to fix the price of Rs182 per 40kg for the 2017-18 crushing season. It also decided to notify the rate on Nov 29.

However, none of the two notifications were issued until Monday.

The Sindh Agriculture Research Council, headed by Ali Palh Advocate, had announced that it would hold a protest on Dec 11 outside Bilawal House. Mr Palh claimed that mills in lower parts of Sindh were offering a rate of Rs140 per 40kg to sugarcane producers, which was in sharp contrast to the government’s decision.

Sindh Chamber of Agriculture General Secretary Zahid Bhurgari hailed the decision by the provincial government to grant the subsidy on sugar exports, noting that it should be linked with the timely commencement of crushing and payment of dues. He said sugarcane harvesting had already been delayed unnecessarily and that millers must start crushing without delay.

According to Mahmood Nawaz Shah, senior vice president of the Sindh Abadgar Board, the Sindh government’s subsidy for millers is in addition to another subsidy announced by the federal government. He said it was surprising that the Sindh government was not ensuring that millers started crushing on time.

Sources said that even after winning subsidies at federal and provincial levels, mill owners are still not happy with the price notification. One source claimed the millers might take the issue of the notification to the Sindh High Court.

According to the sources, millers claim that this subsidy was being offered on surplus stocks from last season. Surplus sugar stocks are expected in the 2017-18 season as well, they said, noting that no subsidy-related decision could be taken at this point in time.

There was no hue and cry by Punjab-based millers over surplus sugar production or the rate announcement in the country’s biggest province. A notification of Rs180 per 40kg was issued by the Punjab government, which was followed by the Sindh government’s decision to fix the rate at Rs182 per 40kg.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2017