LAHORE – The sugar mills in Punjab have purchased 21.24 million metric tons of sugarcane worth Rs 90.17 billion from growers during the current season till the end of Feb 2013, industry sources said. However, the sugar mills have made payment of around Rs77.18 billion which is 86 per cent of total payments while remaining amount of about Rs13 billion is outstanding with the sugar mills which will be paid to the farmers by March 15, they added.They informed that 2.09 million metric tons of sugar has been produced during the current season and a total of 1.87 million metric tons of sugar is available in stocks.The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association Punjab chairman Riaz Qadeer Butt observed that mills were able to make payment of almost 86 per cent due to sugar export decision of the government. He said that due to timely payment the growers will be able to expand their cultivation and next year crop will be increased almost by 10 per cent.He said that government has allowed only 2.1 million tons sugar export in two years though the country has more potential to export the white sweetener. He demanded the government to announce a complete and permanent mechanism for sugar export by fixing a limit. “The export quantity should be enhanced to enable millers for payment. Whenever the sugar production surpasses a particular limit, necessary for local needs, the sugar mills should export surplus stock without waiting for permission of government,” PSMA Punjab chairman observed. He said that the long-term policies and permanent mechanism for sugar export will allow the millers to enhance their expertise and endeavour for foreign market, besides producing surplus sugar to earn precious foreign exchange,” Butt stated. He said that our exporters will take further time to export their stock as the government has lifted ban after a long time. As they are not aware of world market norms and clientage chain they have to take more time to seek information for marketing of their products due to temporary approval of sugar export.  He blamed the government for inconsistent policies, which confused the millers as well as the exporters to decide its production target and export strategies. He anticipates a bumper sugar crop for the season 2012-13, putting the stockpiles of sweetener at 6.2 million tons after adding carryover stocks of 1.2 million tons. He said the government should devise proper export policy in order to facilitate the industry and the growers.Replying to a question, he said that presently sugar mills are running at 60 to 70 per cent of their capacity as sugarcane is short.  Every sugar mill crushes in the range of 6,000 tons to 10,000 tons sugarcane daily but the availability of raw material is just 4,500 ton, increasing the cost of production of millers. As increase of sugarcane prices directly affects sugar prices and if per acre yield of sugarcane is increased then the farmers would be able to get more benefit and issue can be tackled with the increase in research, technology and yields of sugarcane.