Millers threaten closures in face of cane shortages

Updated 21 Nov 2020

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The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) on Friday wrote a letter to the Ministry of Industries warning that the country’s sugar mills could face closure as they face serious shortages of raw material. — AFP/File
The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) on Friday wrote a letter to the Ministry of Industries warning that the country’s sugar mills could face closure as they face serious shortages of raw material. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) on Friday wrote a letter to the Ministry of Industries warning that the country’s sugar mills could face closure as they face serious shortages of raw material.

In a letter titled “Non-Availability of Sugarcane aimed at High Prices Demanded by Farmers,” addressed to Minister of Industries & Production Hammad Azhar, the association said that farmers were trying to manipulate their position by holding cane supplies.

The PSMA also forwarded a copy of the letter to the Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam.

The PSMA has said that sugar mills all over country have commenced the sugarcane crushing season for 2020-2021 as per the directions issued by respective provincial governments.

However, the mills were facing a problem as growers have not started sugarcane harvesting in most regions of the country. “The farmers were demanding high sugarcane price compared to the notified sugarcane price of Rs200 per 40 kg by the provincial governments,” the association said while adding that “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 Azhar to intervene and resolve the issue with the help of district administration to ensure regular supply of sugarcane at notified rates to ensure reasonable price of sugar to consumers. The PSMA has maintained that high sugarcane rates would eventually lead to higher cost of sugar production in the country, but sugar mills would be blamed for the increase in prices.

The sugar industry is currently facing an inquiry by the Competition Commission of Pakistan due to alleged cartelisation and price manipulations by the sugar industry and the PSMA.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2020