SUGARCANE is an important cash crop of Pakistan. It is grown over a large area, and a number of sugar mills have been established to keep the supply chain moving. Also, some portion of the crop is used for production of jiggery, or gur, especially in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. Pakistan is the world’s fifth largest producer and eight largest consumer of sugar. The sugar industry is the second largest agriculture-based industry after textile in the country.
According to some media reports, sugarcane is grown on some 175,000 hectares of land in KP alone. However, due to less rains and attack of ‘pyrilla’ disease on this year’s crop in the province, there is an apprehension of low yield of sugarcane crop up to 25 per cent in KP. This may result in lower production, leading to hike in sugar prices in the market.
According to experts, no necessary steps have been taken so far for managing the situation, which is worsening already in the shape of low supply of sugarcane to the mills, which, in turn, are on the verge of closure due to non-supply of their raw material; the sugarcane.
In view of the above, the KP government should adopt a realistic policy for correcting the situation through timely availability of irrigation water to the sugarcane crop and supply of fertiliser to the growers at fixed rates.
Besides, it should also control the pests to protect the crop and save the growers from huge losses. This will also ensure supply of sugarcane to the mills in sufficient quantities, resulting in increased production of sugar for the end consumers.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022