As sugar cane crushing season has started, farmers from all over the province make their way to the factories in hope to get good money for their sugarcane crop harvested. But this year the farmers do not seem interested in giving their crop to the mills. Moonis Elahi says farmers have lost their trust in the current Punjab Government policy. While only Tandiwala sugar mills bought sugar cane the rest are to start buying from 25th November. Even though the date has been announced but the turnout expected was very low which rings alarm bells. If farmers do not sell their crop to the mills there could be a shortage of sugar in the country.
Moonis Elahi says the major issue is the current price announced by the government. As farmers would be paid Rs. 180 per 40 kg, only Rs. 10 per mound have been increased from the price announced last year. disheartened by the rates offered to them by the mills, farmers have started setting up Jaggery plants on their lands as its rate is Rs. 3000 to Rs. 3500 per 40 kg in the market. It is the task of the CM to look into such matter and ensure that there are no monopolies played during the season. The shortfall could result in inflation and black market sales.
Another huge setback for the farmers is that they do not get paid for their crops sold to the mills in time. A Tandiwala official claimed they would pay farmers net cash and would ensure all dues are cleared within a week. Moonis Elahi condemns the practice of sugar mills to not pay for the harvest when they are buying and rather make false promises with the poor farmers. When the poor doesn’t get paid in time he gets burdened by debt which crushes his life even more. They are forced to take loans on heavy interests which makes their life a living hell.
Farmers in Alipur and Jatoi are really disappointed with Haseeb Waqas mills as they have failed to clear more than Rs. 180 million they owe to the farmers for last year’s crop yield. Javaid Asif, a local farmer sated “they [Haseeb Waqas mills] have not cleared me of my previous cheque and yet they promise me of paying for the fresh crops. I have a family to feed, a land to take care of and need to pay off my debts which I had borrowed in hope of getting paid this year. How do you think I can survive when the mills aren’t paying us?”
Khadim Hussain, a local farmer says he has set up a Jaggery unit at home and is selling it on net payment. Last year he had sold his harvest to Fatima Sugar Mills who cleared him of his dues after 3 months. This year he does not intend to wait for the mills and has rather set up his own unit which brings him more profit. The young but mature politician Moonis Elahi has urged the incumbent government to look deeply into the matter and ensure farmers get paid before the matter worsens and it becomes too difficult to solve. If mills do not get sugar canes there will be a huge sugar shortfall in the country.