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LAHORE: The Sugarcane Control Board (SCB) is likely to meet soon to fix the “minimum purchase price” which may be fixed at Rs 300 per maund due to expensive agricultural inputs as compared to Rs 225 per maund of the last year.

A meeting of the Board has already discussed the proposals from the growers’ organizations and other stakeholders about the support price this year. That meeting held on September 22, 2022, also discussed with the representatives of the sugar millers and growers about sugarcane cess and transportation charges. However, no consensus was reached between the stakeholders as growers were demanding the support price from Rs 300 per maund to over Rs 400 per maund.

The last meeting was adjourned directing the provincial agriculture department to revise the cost of production of sugarcane in line with the increase or decrease in the input costs especially the fertilizers, electricity etc. Sources in the provincial Food department told Business Recorder on Monday that the support price may be fixed at Rs 300 per maund but final decision will be taken in the next meeting of the sugarcane control board. However, cost of production will be submitted by the provincial agriculture department afresh which will also be kept in mind, sources added.

Regarding the stocks situation, the sources said that sugar stocks are around 700,000 metric tons and keeping in view the consumption trend, the stocks at the start of next crushing season will be at 100,000-150,000 metric tons.

The sources further said that last year Punjab fixed the support price of sugarcane at Rs 225 while Sindh put it at Rs 250 per maund. It resulted in transportation of sugarcane from the districts near Sindh to Sindh province while prices in Punjab also remained between Rs 240 to Rs 250 per maund.

However, sugar prices in Punjab remained low as it was fixed at Rs 85 per kilogram inclusive of all taxes. It remained lower than prices in Sindh due to which Gilgit-Baltistan, AJK and even KPK lifted more sugar from the Punjab province as compared to previous year.

Cane Commissioner Punjab Hussain Ali Bahadur Shah when contacted said that no decision has been taken with regard to sugarcane support price till date. He said once the provincial Agriculture department will submit an analysis of cost of production then it will be discussed with the stakeholders to finalize any price.

He, however, admitted that a meeting has already been done in this regard but concluded without any decision. He avoided commenting about any idea of support price this year despite repeated questions and said sugarcane control board will meet in next eight to 10 days to fix the price.

Regarding crushing season start, he said as per law it should be started by November 15 and cannot be delayed beyond November 30. However, he said crushing season date will be announced soon after a report from the provincial agriculture department about crop situation and its maturity.

He said crop was sown over eight percent more area in the province than last year while around one percent crop damaged due to monsoon rains and floods. “Even then the crop size will be more than the last year,” he concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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