Sugar industry thriving at the expense of poor farmers

The small farmers in Punjab are protesting the low prices of sugar cane while farmers in Sindh are protesting the delay in the start of crushing season. The powerful cartel of sugar mill owners is thriving at the expense of farmers. In many parts of Punjab province, the sugar mills are not buying the sugar cane directly from the farmers. The middlemen are exploiting the situation and buying sugar cane at the half price. The government fixed the rate of sugar cane at Rs 180 per 40 Kg.. But middlemen are buying the crop between 80 to 100 rupees.

The poor and small farmers are suffering enormously. They are making losses at the lower rate. In Sindh, sugar mills refused to start the crushing season on time. The farmers are protesting against this decision. Even the mills started the crushing season are not paying the official price of sugar cane to the farmers. The farmers will be forced to sell the sugar cane on much lower rates. This situation will lead to the non cultivation of sugar cane in the next season. The farmers also wait for months to get payments from the sugar mills. Some sugar mills even delay the payments for more than a year.

The government of Punjab and Sindh failed to intervene in the situation and save the farmers from the unjust exploitation of sugar mills. The situation is heading towards a crisis. The question is that why the governments are not intervening.  The reason is simple. The most sugar mills owned by the most influential political families of this country. The nexus between sugar mill cartel and politics is very strong. Zardaris, Sharifs, Tareens and Chaudharies own most of the sugar mills. They have become billionaires at the expense of farmers who have been made even more poorer.

The government should make it sure that the poor small farmers get the official price of sugar cane. Large number of people in rural areas are still dependent on agriculture. The low prices are causing big losses to them. They cannot sustain in this situation.

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