Sugar industry in Pakistan is the second largest agro based industry after textiles. Pakistan is an important sugar cane producing country the world over. Yet the future of country’s sugarcane crop seems to be dwindling and the main reason is that the industry is itself digging its own grave. As they say, one day Capitalism will collapse under its own weight; same is true of this sector.

First of all, poor farmers who sweat all year through and pour their savings and time into producing food and crop for the people are subjected to undue delay in payments; sometimes many years pass before the poor farmers are paid anything. It is an open secret that at times, they are not compensated even for the cost of production and many are left with virtually nothing to sow the next crop.

Sugar millers are secure as they get a subsidy from the government in any case whenever there is a shortage of sugar or excess of sugar but the farmers face the increasing cost of growing the crop. What makes them more obdurate is the fact virtually all sugar cane owners are either politicians, members of the parliament or have someone in the assembly who can always pressurize the government into making laws conducive to them and exploitative for the farmers. As if all this is not enough, the country as a whole is also subjected to their whims when prices of sugar are suddenly raised. That is just owing to the fact that the mill owners are not willing to give up their share of profits, which they raise every years while decreasing those of the farmers gradually.

The industry is being harmed by unusually late fixation of support price of sugarcane by the government. Late commencement of crushing season by the sugar millers as well as late payment to the farmers by the mills is hurting our agriculture and economy in ways that is way too outrageous. Something needs to be done about that and at the earliest. The industry should operate with fairness and transparency.

DR. FAROOQ AHMAD KHAN,

Lahore, January 2.