LAHORE: The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) has expressed its utter shock at procurement of sugar at a price of Rs140 per kg from mill owners by the Punjab government.

PKI President Khalid Mahmood Khokhar said on Monday that the minimum purchase price of sugarcane was fixed at Rs300 per 40kg for the previous crop and the federal government had estimated and notified the sugar retail price at Rs98.82 per kg for the current marketing season accordingly.

However, he said he was astonished to note that the Punjab government allowed sugar mill owners to increase the commodity price by over 40 per cent in an arbitrary step.

Commenting on the statement of the caretaker chief minister about selling sugar at concessionary rates at model bazaars and Sunday bazaars, the farmers’ leader said if managements of sugar millers are allowed to sell the commodity at much higher price, then the farmers are justified to demand a 40pc hike in sugarcane dues with retrospective effect.

“The sugarcane growers are very much within their right to ask for the compensation for the low rate paid to them for the previous crop, whose products are being permitted to be sold at a much higher price.”

He said the consent given to the sugar industry for increasing the price without consulting stakeholders, particularly growers, is tantamount to backstabbing the farmers as well as consumers.

“Besides being cultivators, we are also consumers of sugar. Hence, the abrupt decision taken by the Punjab government to raise sugar price by over 40pc is really shocking and contrary to rules and regulations. The Rs140 per kg price is a sweet relief to mill owners, not the farmers or consumers.”

The PKI president demanded action over miscalculation of sugarcane price for the previous season, which was on a much lower side.

“If the Punjab government really wants to raise the sugar rate by over Rs41 per kg than the notified price (Rs98.82) of the sweetener based on Rs300 per 40kg sugarcane rate, it should investigate first why cane rate had been fixed at lower side.”

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2023

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