KARACHI

Due to tug-of-war between powerful lobbies of growers and millers sitting in Sindh government over the dispute of sugarcane price and ineptness of PPP-led government causing losses to the agrarian economy, the spine of national economy. The longest delays of more than two months in the commencement of sugarcane crushing season on the one hand causing huge losses to the growers while at the same harming the cash crops - wheat and cotton.

The federal government has refused to mediate in the price dispute between mills owners and growers, saying that under the 18th Amendment the matter belonged to the provincial government.

The high court intervened and compelled government to fix cane price. The government fixed price less than the last years. Later it was revised to the level of last year, but millers are not ready to pay the government fixed price

The desperate sugarcane growers of Sindh crying hoarse and holding protest demonstration at the mills located in their areas as their sugarcane crop was losing weight which will caused huge losses to them.

On the other, the rice growers also raising hue and cry and calling upon the government to purchase rice at the support price of Rs1,400 per 40 kg through the Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation (PASSCO) and the Trade Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to save growers from suffering colossal losses.

The Sindh Assembly in its recently prorogued session has adopted a resolution on the issue urged the government to rescue the paddy growers.

Rice growers said that last year the paddy of coarse rice was sold at the rate Rs950 to 1000 per 40 kg and rice with 25 per cent broken grains was being sold at Rs1,400 to Rs1,450 per 40 kg in Karachi market. But this year the paddy price was pegged at Rs800 to Rs780 per 40 kg at rice mills and open market, which was quite unfortunate for the growers, who had spent Rs30,000 to Rs35,000 per acre to grow the crop.

Growers lamented that government was taking no interest in setting up procurement centres while the Rabi season was drawing close and the growers needed money to purchase seeds for new crops.

When contacted Abdul Majeed Nizamani, President Sindh Abadgar Board, a leading growers’ body said that Sindh has produced around 400 million tones of sugarcane this year which is being dried due to price dispute, thus causing loses to the growers and at same time hampering the production of wheat and cotton crops. The delay in harvesting the cane would prolong the period of crop which will consume more water and expenses.

He said small land owners having 50 acres of lands or more are the worst sufferers of the delay in cane crushing season as they were unable to cultivate Rabi crops on time.

Talking about the prevailing situation of agrarian sector, Nizamani said that the governments of rice producing countries have rescued their growers by purchasing their whole crops thereby saving agriculture sector.

He said that our neighbouring country India has granted Rs550 million subsidy to the agrarian industry.

Pakistani growers were paying Rs135 billion to the government on account of GST whereas the Indian government has granted $66 billion subsidy to the growers’, he added.

 Citing another comparison, he said a bag of urea is available in India at a rate of $6, while the growers of Pakistan paid $18-19 for a bag of urea, what to talk of other subsidies given to the agriculture sector in electricity and other inputs.

He said agricultural economy of province was at stake and in the prevailing situation the agro-based industries especially the textile industry so the government ought to intervene in the matter.

Commenting on the situation, political observers are of the view it seems that the government seems unable to exercise the executive powers handed to it by the 18th Amendment.