Sugarcane crops use a lot of water and require special costly fertiliser. Sugarcane plant grows with razor sharp leaves and requires hard effort by farmers to cut them down. Loading and transportation is also a hassle while the Sugar Mill owners make the trucks wait outside their mills for many days to help reduce water content and weight of the sugarcane, while the farmer has to pay the truck rent charges for all these days.

Industrial average Sucrose content for sugarcane is above 14% but Sugar Mill owners claim that in Pakistan it is only 8%. Since most mill owners distribute sugarcane seeds to the farmers on loan, therefore cane commissioner does not check the sucrose content of the sugarcane in Pakistan and there is no data available. Due to this reason the Sugar Mills not only force the Government to reduce the sugarcane base price, but also claim lower sugar production and thus pay lower taxes and claim higher price for Sugar in Pakistan.

The farmers are mostly not paid on time or at all. But even with all these hassles the farmers in Pakistan plant sugarcane every year because sugarcane has a fixed support price and they get seeds on loan.

Similarly with over 60 sugar mills, Pakistani businesses still pay higher price than International Sugar and get a much lower quality product.

While in other countries the high number of Sugar Mills has created yearly high exports of Sugar, in Pakistan International sugar import in banned and no export without subsidiary of Sugar has ever been achieved.

It should be evident to everyone how the sugar industry in Pakistan is not beneficial for us and we have to try to change it. Firstly the government should end fixed support price for sugarcane. Cane commission should take samples and check sucrose content to gather relevant data. Import of Sugar should be allowed freely or with minimum amount of tax to help all business sectors. While farmers of sugarcane areas should be given free or on loan, high quality cotton seeds for this year, while a fixed support price for cotton should also be introduced this year.

The local sugar industry would need to change their raw material to beet roots or bring better quality sugarcane seeds or improve their own production. The Government can still help them by offering to buy only local sugar for all Pakistani government organizations, but at International sugar prices and quality only. Such an initiative will greatly help all the sugarcane farmers, while reduce costs for local businesses and help reduce inflation.

ENGR SHAHRYAR KHAN BASEER,

Peshawar.