Farmers resent allowing duty-free import of raw sugar

Post Source: Business Recorder

By M RAFIQUE GORAYA

LAHORE  (September 29, 2010) : Various farmers associations have strongly reacted to the government’s decision to allow duty free import of raw sugar through mills and traders at a time when sugar cane crushing season is not far off and said “this is the most detrimental step of the government against the interests of the poor farmers.”
Talking to Business Recorder here on Tuesday, Director and Chief Co-ordinator Farmers Association of Pakistan (FAP) Tariq Bucha said, ” powerful and influential owners of the 70 plus sugar mills of the country are sitting in the Parliament and occupying high government offices, therefore, they are in a position to take any decision in self-interest.”
He said that the government has fixed sugarcane price at Rs 125 per 40 KG, which is much low than the farmers’ cost of production. Even if the sugar mills buy sugar cane at the rate of Rs 200 per 40 KG, the millers cost of white sugar comes to Rs 38 per kilogram, whereas this commodity is being sold to the consumers at the rate of Rs 85 per kilogram.
President Pakistan Agri Forum Ibrahim Moghal criticised the government for allowing import of raw sugar at a time when sugarcane crop will ripe for crushing in Sindh province next month. “The powerful sugar mafia wants to fleece the farmers by fixing their own price of the sugarcane rather than allowing the mechanism of the free market economy,” he added.
He said though sugarcane crop has been damaged over 4,00,000 to 5,00,000 acres in the country. Yet there is good standing crop over 1.9 million to 2 million acres, which can produce at least 3.3 million tons of sugar. “Instead of allowing the millers and traders to import duty free raw sugar in unlimited quantities, the government should have asked the sugar mills to first buy the available sugarcane in the country if it had smallest regard for economic interest of the farmers who have been ruined by the recent floods,” he lamented.
President Muttahida Kissan Mahaz, Ayub Khan Mayo said that Rs 125 per 40-KG sugarcane price is not acceptable to the farming community. He demanded that the farmers should be paid last year’s market price of Rs 210 per 40 KG, when sugar was sold to the domestic consumers at the rate of Rs 40 per KG. “Now the sugar millers are selling the commodity at the rate of Rs 84 per KG, therefore, the farmers should also be paid price of the sugarcane in light of the white sugar market price.
He said the farmers want that the consumers should be provided sugar at reasonable prices, however, it does not mean that the traders and sugar mills should be given a free hand to plunder the farmers and the consumers.
The farmers demanded of the government to withdraw its one-sided decision and take the farmers into confidence to formulate a win-win strategy for all the stakeholders. It may be added that Pakistan consumes four million tons of sugar a year, 1.8 million tons by the domestic consumers and rest by the commercial concerns like beverages and sweets makers. Pakistan has one of the highest per capita sugar consumption in the world.

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