Islamabad - Farmers complain that although the sugarcane season is in full swing, the millers are not buying their cash crop at official rates, but rather at cheaper rates.

The millers in Punjab issue permits to only those farmers who agree to sell their crop at Rs140-150 per mound. The sugar mill mafia is simply looting the poor farmers, said Rao Afsar, an official of Small Farmers Association.

He said those who did not agree to sell their crop at throw away prices were denied the permits. “Permit is a sugarcane purchase official agreement, issued to local farmers by millers,” he added.

The farmers said other than local mills they had no buyer who could pay them as per official rates. They said the purchase agents who could be another option charged Rs40 for service charges instead of charging Rs3 per mound official rates.

The millers’ mafia has devised such a plan that a farmer ends up selling his crop at Rs140-145 per mound no matter whatever door he knocks, said Ahmed Buksh, another farmer.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research has set a target to produce about 68.517 million tonnes of sugarcane during current crop season by cultivating the crop over an area of 1164.2 thousand hectares, this year.

AS like in the past, the sugarcane crushing season this year too started after remaining in limbo.

The delay was mainly due to millers’ insistence on a raise in federal subsidy on the export of sugar.

The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) had been arguing that crushing couldn’t be started due to unsold buffer stocks of sugar — estimated to be around 500,000 tonnes.

Now when the mills have started buying they are not only paying the price very less as compared to the official rates but the payments are also not in cash.

The millers are paying after 15 days and in installments, said Yasin Koreja, another farmer.

The farmers have requested the government to take notice of the matter and ensure payment of Rs180 per mound to them as announced by the government so that they could get some money after a long labour.

They said due to costly farm inputs, the farmers could hardly earn only Rs35000–Rs40,000 per acre if he could sell his crop for Rs180 per mound- after a labour of more than 12 months.