LATE last month, the federal government allowed export of 1.5m tonnes of sugar with a subsidy of Rs10.7 per kilogram. But the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association was not happy because it considered the subsidy inadequate amid falling international sugar prices.
In every cane crushing season, one witnesses a tug of war between farmers and mill owners over the price of cane. At least in the case of Sindh, the announcement of an “agreed” official price is usually delayed by the provincial government. This works in favour of mill owners and to the disadvantage of growers in the province.
Mill owners want either corresponding support for sugar price as given for cane or a free hand for market forces to set prices of the two commodities on the basis of demand and supply.
The issue remains unresolved despite the importance cane economics holds for the country. Pakistan is among the world’s top 10 producers of cane, and the sugar industry is the country’s second largest after textiles.