SUGARCANE growers have started complaining now that mills have not paid them, at the same time as the sugar millers have warned that if a duty is not imposed on the import of sugar which they say is in fact dumping of excess stocks by external producers, they may not be able to pay the growers at all - having already taken their crop. Farmers, who have so far grown the crop in the hope of payment in the future, might decide not to grow it at all, despite its apparent profitability, as millers cut off their noses to spite their faces. It seems that the impending confrontation will merely worsen the existing and persistent shortage of the commodity, which the government wants relieved by importing Indian sugar. This surrender does not take account of the fact that sugar is locally grown and manufactured, virtually all over the country, and thus its import only supports the exporting sugar industry, in this case Indias. While growers have started complaining of the hardship caused to them and their families, millers have warned also of impending bank defaults, of about 80 billion, against sugar stocks. The millers trump card has been the fact that they are well represented in both Treasury and Opposition benches. Because they also are possessed of large amounts of spare cash, their influence in their parties is out of proportion to their already substantial number. This influence is used to protect the millers interests, no matter which government is in office. The government must not use government money to promote the Indian sugar industry, and it must take all necessary measures to protect the consumer as well as the grower. If that includes placing any regulatory duties on imports, that should be done well in time to prevent imports. The government must also not cave in to blackmailing by the millers, who have added bank loans to payments for cane to the list of debts they intend to welsh on. Though both parties will probably find it difficult to, they will have to make sure that the millers do not merely abuse them for their rown purposes. That has been at the root of the sugar problem so far.