gur-making up in KP

Bitter realities of a sweet crop

Sugarcane growers prefer making gur rather than selling the crop to mills owners

Bitter realities of a sweet crop

It is gur-making season in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan and Nowshera. The estimated sugarcane production in KP is around 1.3 million tonnes. Almost half of it is used for gur making. Gur produced in Charsadda and Mardan is very popular countrywide. Gur is the main sweetener for around 60 per cent people in KP and Federally and Provincially-administered tribal areas (Fata and Pata). It is exported to Afghanistan, Middle Eastern and Central Asian states where it is believed to be used as a sweetener and in winemaking.

Mardan and Peshawar are the hubs of gur trade. Around ten to twelve thousands of purs are traded in the Pipal Mandi gur market when the trade is in full swing. Gur commission agents are also very active these days.

Thousands of tonnes of gur is traded in the province or taken out of the country daily. Majority of the sugarcane growers prefer using their cane-produce for gur-making rather than taking it to mills for its comparative advantages. It fetches them good prices. They have to feed their animals with cane-grass which necessitates intermittent cutting of crop as allowed by gur-making and not simultaneous harvesting of the entire crop as demanded by the mills option. And they usually use gur in their homes. Gur is used in juices, sweets and eaten with bread as curry with bread by the poor.

In Punjab, a kind of gur, named Duplicate, is prepared by mixing gur, glucose and other ingredients. It is good-looking as well as cheaper and tasteful, according to some farmers.

While sugar-mills began crushing season in early November, gur-making is usually started in late September or early October. It lasts till April next year.

Gur prepared in the initial stage is of inferior quality but can fetch more. Late production increases yield and standard. The gur made in January, February and March is much better in quality and is liked the most. Similarly, gur without alteration is the best for human consumption while that mixed with artificial colour tastes bad, though people residing in remote areas prefer it for its bright colour. Again, the gur made from the roots of the last year’s crop is good in quality while that from fresh canes is not that good.

According to Murad Ali Khan, a farmers’ leader from Charsadda, gur is more competitive for the farmers at the current rate.

“A pur of gur (having 75-80 kilograms) fetches a price up to Rs5000 depending upon its colour, taste and quality in the local market. Sugarcane yield per acre is around 400 maunds which can produce 20 purs (a pur consumes 20-25 maunds of cane). These can earn a farmer Rs100,000 or more. It exceeds the price offered by sugar-mills these days,” he says.

According to another farmer, quality sugarcane can give as much as 40 purs per acre. But, he says, farmers in KP will only benefit from the crop when its per acre yield of 350-400 maunds is increased to that of 650-700 maunds in Punjab. At present, gur-making through rented gurganee (machines) is less beneficial for farmers while those who own ganees are the real beneficiaries,” he opines.

Muhammad Zahir Khan, another growers’ representative, says hitches in supply of gur to Fata, Pata and the ban on export of gur to Afghanistan and the central Asian states, however, have lowered gur prices of late to the detriment of gur farmers. “Gur can be a healthy addition to the countries’ depleting export earnings if its export is allowed after value addition.”

Masud Khan, the manager of the Premier Sugar Mills Mardan, says though the minimum sugarcane support price is Rs170 per 40 kilogrammes in other provinces, the local sugar mills offer Rs180. “We have to compete with gurganees. While our per kg cost of production has increased for higher prices and wages offered to farmers and employees, escalating fuel prices and various taxes, gurganees have no such taxes and responsibilities. How can we compete with them? Sugar industry will be on verge of closure if not supported,” he says. The industry has been campaigning for ban on gur export, taxes on gur industry and eventual moratorium on gur production.

Rizwanullah Khan, the president of the Kissan Board KP, however, says prices of all the things are on the rise while last year’s cane price has remained unchanged. “In 2010, mills had offered Rs240 per 40kg. Cane price be increased as per cost of production. We have planned agitation to press for good cane-prices.”

Gur was once the food of the poor. Though it has become costlier than sugar for few years now, the poor still prefer it for its taste and health benefits.

A farmer said gur agents and big farmers have installed generator-run modern gur-ganees with several furnaces which help prepare plenty of purs daily.

In 1996, average retail gur price was 14 rupees a kilo. Currently, it is sold at Rs66-75/kg. The sugarcane growers, unfortunately, haven’t been able to get advantage of this hike. Growers say the gur commission agents have devoured most of the surplus value in the shape of huge commission or deduction of 5-8kg gur/a pur.

Mardan and Peshawar are the hubs of gur trade. Around ten to twelve thousands of purs are traded in the Pipal Mandi gur market when the trade is in full swing. Gur commission agents work pretty much like the property dealers or motor vehicle bargainers who are only concerned with their commission.

“The gur agents enter advance agreements with farmers by making payments for standing crops. They provide farmers seasonal/crop-based loans which they use for buying inputs and fulfilling their domestic needs,” a farmer says.

An official of the Sugarcane Crops Research Institute said though KP’s cane has better quality and sucrose content, its average yield is between 16-24 metric tonnes, much less than that of Sindh and Punjab. He cited insufficient use of fertiliser and pesticides, non-attractive price given by mills, intercropping, use of less than recommended seed (4 ton/acre) and shortage of irrigation water as reasons for lesser acreage and production.

Decline in sugarcane market price

Decline in sugarcane market price

By Tahir Ali

THE ban on supply of gur to Afghanistan despite bumper sugarcane crop and the prolonged cold/dry weather have improved cane supply situation for sugar mills. However, farmers in Khyber PakhtunKhwa remain adversely affected.

Along with fall in price of sugar, per satta (two purs or 150-180kg) price of gur has come down to about Rs8,000-9,000 this season from Rs16,000-17,000 last year. It is for the first time in recent years that gur has lost its competitiveness.

Masud Khan, an official of the Premier Sugar Mills, Mardan, said that an overwhelming majority of farmers were bringing their produce to the mills. “For the first time during this season cane supply has reached 100 per cent delivery. We are receiving around 3,600 tonnes of the commodity daily,” he said adding “against the official support price of Rs150 per 40kg, the growers were being paid Rs158/40kg or around Rs200 per 50kg.”

“Huge cane production, low gur prices and damages caused to the crop by frost with fear of further loss to sucrose contents due to weather conditions, and the need to vacate lands for subsequent crops, are compelling farmers to bring their crops to the mills,” Khan added.

According to Haji Naimat Shah Roghani, senior vice-president Anjuman-i-Kashtkaran KP, farmers widely cultivated cane this year following attractive prices of Rs338/50kg offered by mills, and around Rs16,000/satta price of gur in the market last year. Cane was sold even up to Rs500/50kg to private vendors engaged in juice extracting business.

“Banning movement of gur to the tribal belt and its export to Afghanistan, which led to sharp fall in its prices, the faulty decision of the government to import sugar at the start of crushing season instead of lifting stocks from mills in time, led to fall in cane price severely affecting growers. This, no doubt, helped reduce sugar prices in the market but at a critical juncture making timely payments to farmers impossible, at least for now,” he said.

“The millers are offering a price of Rs200 for 50kg these days. At the present rate of returns and for gur in the market, 300 maunds average per acre yield (15 purs or eight satta) could earn a farmer only Rs60,000 and nearly the same amount if he takes his produce to mills.

The present rate of gur and the rate offered by mills are too little for farmers as the per acre cost of production has increased to almost over Rs60,000 due to steep rise in prices of farm inputs, services and increased land-rent in recent times, especially in the last couple of years,” said Mr Roghani.

“With such a return that only equals the cost of production, farmers would hardly be inclined to grow sugarcane in the coming Kharif season. Does the government understand the risks involved?” he asked.

Farmers in the cane-rich DIK have multiple complaints. Muhammad Ismael, a farmer from Luanda Sharif in DIK, said farmers were being denied indents, a prerequisite for cane-supply to mills. “Indents are issued only to big farmers who have access to right quarters. The farmers with poor resources are running from pillar to post. As gur production was mostly avoided by area farmers, selling cane to mills was the only option,” he said.

”But with indents not issued or delayed for lengthy process as these are being provided through agents against the past practice when it was directly given to farmers, we have to sell our cane to the commission ‘mafia’ at a lower prices but prompt payment. The commission agents buy the crop between Rs135-140 per 40kg against Rs150 offered by Chashma Sugar mills in the area,” he added.

“Payments legally due in 15 days are delayed for months. A farmer who supplied cane to a mill last year received his payments this year. The farmers are also subjected to a cut of around 10-15 per cent on the pretext of poor quality and low sucrose content,” added Mr Ismael.

With gur prices historically low, the commission agents should also have reduced their commission at gur markets. “But they continue to impose a commission of Rs130/pur in Mardan and Swabi while their counterparts in Peshawar and Charsadda were collecting only Rs40/pur. The government must ensure a uniform rate of commission for gur agents in the province,” Mr Roghani added.

“The government is also needed to support farmers through targeted subsidies on inputs. It should remove or reduce general sales tax on agriculture services and inputs. It should allow export of gur and lift the ban on its movement to the provincially- and federally-administered tribal areas,” he stressed.

Mills raise cane rates to ensure supplies

Mills raise cane rates to ensure supplies.

Mills raise cane rates to ensure supplies

By Tahir Ali Khan

THE supply of sugarcane to mills in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has picked up following fall in gur prices and improved rates being offered by sugar mills.

Gur prices plunged to Rs5,000-5,500 per 80 kg in local markets from Rs6,000-6,500 last month and Rs7,500-8,500 last October. This has prompted farmers to take their crop to millers who are offering better prices these days.

The price offered by mills is Rs338 per 50 kg of cane. But farmers Farmani Gul Khan argue that on the basis of recent gur prices this season, it should be around Rs450 for 50kg.

Since 2007, gur has been costlier than sugar.But it has lost its place of being the first priority of farmers in the province. For example with a crop of 300 maunds, a farmer will earn around Rs83,000 if he opts for gur, and over Rs100,000 if he takes it to mills, says mill owners.

Cane manager at the Premier sugar mills in Mardan Masood Khan says increase price offer has augmented supplies to the mills. “The cane supply situation improved in February and we are crushing around 3,000 tons of cane daily, approaching fast to our peak crushing of 4,000 tons achieved some years ago. We are running the mills non-stop. Gur is our main competitor. If its prices come down, farmers will come to us and vice versa. But for the moment, we are satisfied. Cane supply to mills in Dera Ismail Khan and Charsadda has also improved a lot,” he said.

Why do growers often prefer gur making? “The gur agents make advance agreements to farmers, and payments are made for standing crops. They provide seasonal/crop-based loans to growers which are used for buying inputs and meeting their domestic needs. How could farmers sell their cane crop to mills in this situation?” asks Jehangir Khan, a farmer.

“The millers, conversely, wait for farmers to bring their crop to the mills which they have already pledged to gur agents against return of advance payments or easy loans. Cane crop is also bought by cane-juice-sellers on advance payments. The millers should make agreements with cane farmers as is done in case of tobacco crop. They should purchase cane crop at fixed and better rates. Why can’t they make advance payments or provide loans to farmers like their competitors at the start of the season?” he asks.

Jehangir said farmers at present had to go to mills to get indents for their cane and suggested that it should be the other way round. “They need to reach farmers like their gur competitors. The millers in the past had opened local cane purchase/dumping centres. The farmers would bring their produce to these centres and the millers would pick it from there. This needs to be revived,” he suggests.

“Besides a fixed price for certain fixed sugar-content, farmers should get enhanced payment for produce with better sugar-content. This will be an incentive for them,” he maintains.

“In Punjab a large quantity of gur, named duplicate is being produced by mixing gur with glucose and other ingredients. It has not only a good look but also tastes better and is cheaper.

Around 100kg of duplicate is prepared in an hour. Farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are also planning to start producing this variety.

This means that more and more cane will be used for making gur in future. Millers will have to be more responsive and competitive to avoid this scenario,” Yousaf Shah, another farmer, adds.

“Farmers opt for gur making for two other reasons as well. One: they have to feed their livestock with cane-grass which necessitates intermittent cutting of crop as allowed by gur manufacturers and not simultaneous harvesting of the entire crop as needed by mills. Two: they use gur in their homes which they make even if they take bulk of their crop to mills. This can be avoided by providing fodder seeds and supplying farmers with sugar on deferred payment,” says Shah.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa produces about 1.3 million tons of sugarcane. It can produce up to 0.1 million tons of sugar if cane supply to mills is improved.

But the problem is that the area under cane cannot be increased because of its competition with wheat or maize and water shortage. “Investment in research for high-yielding cane varieties and increasing per acre yield with better sugar content is the need of the hour. Millers should also help, ” Jehangir argues.

Low Sugarcane to mills

Raw (unrefined, unbleached) sugar, bought at t...

Image via Wikipedia

Mills facing cane shortage

Dec 13 2010

By Tahir Ali

IT is not a good sight that the yard of Asia’s biggest sugar mill –the Premier Sugar Mill, Mardan— and roads surrounding it, that would have mile-long queue of cane-carrying trolleys and trucks a few years ago, has only a few of them. The mill is  getting a paltry supply of cane.

Officials at the PSM say they increased the price of cane and ensured prompt payment, expecting that the two measures would improve cane supply position to the mill but the growers did not respond.

They maintain that the PSM increased cane price from support price of Rs125 to Rs240 per 40kg to receive better supplies.

Masood Khan, cane manager at the PSM, said increase in cane price had not boosted supply of cane to the mill as expected. “Farmers wanted prompt payment and good returns on the crop. We have increased the price and are paying them within three days. But still the supply is not enough to run the mill.

He said: “We are running the mill intermittently for 8-10 hours a day or even after a break of a day so that enough stock is accumulated for crushing.”

“Our cost of production per kilo has increased to Rs75-78, which means sugar should be sold at Rs80-85 per kg. However, the prices are coming down, making the position of mills unstable,” he added.

According to him, less supply of cane means intermittent running of mills, which increases cost of production, especially in the event of higher prices to farmers, high wages offered to employees, burgeoning fuel prices and various taxes.

“Conversely, gur has no such taxes and burdens. Why won’t it compete with us? Its prices have increased tremendously and it is sold around Rs80-90 a kilo. To enable us to compete with it, we must be given subsidised fuel, power and relief in taxes. Or else gur making should be banned altogether,” he argued.

Haji Niamat Shah, senior vice president of Anjuman-e-Kashtkaran, Khyber Paktunkhwa, also said the government should announce a relief package and a rebate in taxes for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sugar industry.

Abdur Rasheed, another official at the PSM, said the mill would daily crush around 100,000 maunds of cane five years ago but it was crushing only 20 per cent of the quantity these days.

Welcoming increase in cane price, Shah hoped farmers would grow more cane next year. Increased price would ensure the pledged and continuous crushing at the mills producing more sugar, save jobs of thousands of mill employees, who are laid-off when mills are closed, and help reduce prices of sugar in the country,” he said.

The new price would appeal farmers who make gur through rented gur-ganees. “But I think those with their own gur-ganees will still feel like making gur from their crop,” he opined.

“The new price may not improve cane supply to mills but it speaks volumes of the government’s indifference and lack of information on the ground situation. Look at the price fixed by the government and the one offered by the mills,” said a farmer.

The estimated production of sugarcane in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 1.3 million tons. It can produce up to 100,000 tons of sugar if farmers start bringing their crop to mills for crushing instead of making gur.

Ban on movement of gur to seven federally-administered tribal areas and their six provincial counter parts have caused a fall in its demand and as a result the prices have come down by about 20-30 per cent, but farmers are still going for it.

The gur-makers are alleged to have purchased standing crops from farmers and made advance payments to them for the gur they produce, according to a source. According to him, generator-run modern gur-ganees are consuming cane faster than in the past.

To get adequate supplies, the sugar millers will have to enter into contracts with farmers for purchasing their crop at fixed/better price, and a surety for prompt even advance payments before or after cultivation, but much earlier than harvesting.

There should also be a minimum price for certain fixed sugar-content, but farmers should receive a premium price for more sugar-content in their crop.

Investment in research for better varieties of sugarcane and improvement in per acre yield with better sugar recoveries is also required.

Pakistan is the sixth biggest sugarcane producer in the world but is ranks 15th both in cane and sugar yield.

Ban on Gur export

Farmers to resist ban on gur export

By Tahir Ali
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FARMERS in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa particularly in the gur-producing Peshawar valley are angry over the ban imposed on the export of gur to Afghanistan and its supply to the tribal belt.

The ban on movement of gur to federally and provincially-administered tribal areas (Fata and Pata), according to them, would not only affect adversely the farmers but also expose the poor consumers in these areas to price-hike and create a sense of deprivation among them.

Both Murad Ali Khan, president of the Kissan Board, and Haji Nimat Shah, senior vice-president of the Anjuman-e-Kashtkaran KP, said it would worsen the plight of the majority of the growers in the province.

Khan said over 60 per cent farmers in KP who hoped to earn modest income from gur making has been denied the opportunity. “Farmers would never allow such unrealistic measures being taken at the behest of the powerful sugar mafia and resist it tooth and nail. We are in touch with gur dealers and commission agents to organise protests. We will first give the government a deadline to withdraw this decision and if it is not, then we will start agitation against the move,” he said.

According to him, the sugar mill owners with their power and clout in parliament and government have got the export of gur banned. “This conspiracy has been continuing since long but the previous regimes had rejected the mafia’s demand for the ban. This time round, the mafia has succeeded in its designs by threatening the government to close their mills if the export of gur was not banned. Their next target is to get moratorium on gur production for good,” he added.

“But we won’t allow them to do so because a large number of people and farmers depend on gur incomes. We will force the government to take the decision back,” he added.

Through such measures, people in the tribal areas, who are facing the worst effects of terrorism and extremism, are being exposed to price hike,” Shah said. “The government should restore sale and movement of gur to the tribal belt. By banning entry of gur to Fata and Pata, the government is bent upon pushing the people to extreme poverty,” he argued.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has limited acreage while most of the growers are subsistence farmers living on the income earned from selling their yields or by-products. There are limited cash crops with sugarcane being the major one,” Shah added.

Gur is the main sweetener for the 60 per cent people in KP and Fata and Pata. It is exported to Afghanistan, Middle East and the Central Asian states where it is used as sweetener and for producing wine.

Estimated cane production in KP is around 1.3 million tons. Over half of the produce is used in making gur.

Though the government has banned gur export, allegedly a huge quantity of the commodity along with sugar is being smuggled to Afghan, Iran and other regional markets.

“It is surprising that the government has banned gur but has shut its eyes to the rampant smuggling of fertiliser, wheat flour, timber and live animals to Afghanistan and Iran, he alleged. Instead of banning gur export, the government should stop its smuggling,” Khan added.

A pur (80kg) of gur was being traded at Rs7,000-8,000 before the ban but now it has declined by around Rs2,000 per pur after the ban.

“Around 2,000 sacks of gur were being sent to the tribal belt daily which has been banned now. The prices are coming down, affecting a large number of farmers especially in the Peshawar valley where making gur is preferred,” he added.

Farmers say millers wanted ban on gur export so that they were left with no option but to take their crop to the mills, but this may not happen.

“The ban is uncalled for. If the millers start giving competitive returns to farmers for their crops, farmers would swarm at mills. The millers may not benefit much from the ban as farmers will certainly avoid sowing the crop in future as it becomes less rewarding,” said Khan.

According to a sugar industry source, gur manufacturing was causing a loss of about $70 million to sugar production and Rs500 million to revenue annually.

Gur’s Sweet solution

Sweet solutions

By Tahir Ali

(The News, 7-02-10)

As many farmers have started using their sugarcane to make gur instead of sugar, the practice does not bode well for sugar millers in FATA. Some sugar mills in the frontier, especially those in central districts, have closed or have stopped crushing sugarcane much before schedule. While sugar mills in Dera Ismail Khan and other southern districts of the province are operating, most of them in Peshawar, Charsadda, and Mardan, have been closed for good or have stopped crushing because they have already consumed their stock of sugarcane. Frontier Sugar Mills and Khazana Sugar Mills in Mardan, for instance, are already closed while the Premier Sugar Mills in Mardan — reportedly the biggest sugar mill in Asia — has also stopped crushing.

A high-ranking official of a big sugar mill in the area, on the condition of anonymity, says increased sugarcane price is the biggest problem, “Farmers are demanding high prices for their sugarcane which is simply not viable for us. We are giving them more than the official purchase price but they insist for more and are not bringing sugarcane to the mills. We cannot run our mills in this situation.”

The official rate of 40kg of sugarcane is Rs130 locally as compared to Rs100 last year. Despite this price, there is limited sugarcane supply to mills because the gur mafia purchases the standing crop at Rs180-200 to make gur from it. Farmers either sell their crop to them or opt for making gur from sugarcane.

General Secretary Pakistan Sugar Mills Association, K Ali Qazalbash, claims farmers were offered between Rs140-200 per 40kg of sugarcane on different stations. But they demanded more than that which was simply not affordable for the millers. That was why several mills were closed down,” he says adding, “Seven out of 82 sugar mills were located in FATA. I cannot say exactly how many of these are closed nation-wide. But one thing I know for sure that sugar millers in FATA are faced with the problem of reduced supply of sugarcane as farmers prefer making gur from their crop. They prefer it because it fetches them more income as more gur can be produced from a given quantity of sugarcane than sugar,” he adds.

“Gur prices have gone up considerably and the commodity is being traded at around Rs80-100 per kg these days. It was cheaper than sugar two years back. But no one is questioning and investigating the issue. It is ironical that gur price is being determined by market forces while sugar prices have been determined by administrative decision,” complains Qazalbash. According to Qazalbash, sugar prices are going up internationally. Sugar prices must be around Rs60-65 per kg,” he argues.

There is no tax on the gur trade. The previous government had levied a fixed tax on gur ganees which was latter withdrawn after facing opposition from farmers. The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association NWFP chapter has been asking for a ban on the export of gur and for a 15 percent sales tax on gur industry. “Gur exporters earn huge chunks of money from exports to Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs) where it is used in wine-making and other items. Why has its export been allowed when there is shortage of sugar in the domestic market and the government spends billions on its imports?” says Qazalbash.

Haji Niamat Shah, Senior Vice President of Anjuman-e-Kashtkaran NWFP, however, says mills were offering prices of Rs150 to Rs175 per 50kg for different categories of sugarcanes as against official rate of Rs130 per 40kg. “Farmers are not bringing their produce to mills because they can earn more from gur-making. The result is that sugar mills have stopped crushing before schedule. It means revenue loss to the government, joblessness, and shortage of sugar in the market.”

On the suggestion to impose taxes on the gur sector, Shah says that the demand is unjust and would affect the already overburdened 85 percent poor farmers, “Instead, farmers should be offered incentives for bringing their sugarcane to the mills. For this purpose, the government should announce a relief package and a rebate in taxes for NWFP sugar industry which in turn would increase sugarcane prices for farmers. This would revive farmers’ declining interest in bringing sugarcane to the mills.”

Growing an estimated one million hectares of sugarcane annually, Pakistan is the 5th largest sugarcane producer of the world. Gur and seed consume an estimated one third of the produce. According to an estimate, 1.5 million tonnes of gur is annually produced in Pakistan. Some even claim the yield is two million tonnes. In 1996-97, it was estimated that 32 percent of the sugarcane crop was diverted for the production of an estimated 1.4 million tonnes of gur.

Gur prices have gone up sharply this year. The price of two purs of gur, weighing 160 kg, is between Rs9500 to Rs12500 as against Rs4500 to Rs5000 last year. In 1996, an average retail gur price was 14 rupees. Currently, it is Rs60-80 for different varieties.

Farmer can hardly be expected to take their yield to mills when they can earn double the amount by opting for gur. Sardar Ali, a farmer says an acre of sugarcane yields 600 maunds of sugarcane, “The farmer gets a maximum of Rs100,000 if he takes it to a sugar mill. But his net income will be around 50-55 thousand rupees after deduction of all of his expenditures. Conversely, it can produce 40 purs. With the current rate, these purs can fetch him over Rs200,000 and his net income may be over Rs100,000.”

The government has failed to implement the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to provide sugar at Rs40 a kilo to domestic consumers. In a move that revealed its helplessness vis-à-vis the powerful sugar barons, the government raised its price to Rs45 per kg from Rs38. It also failed to stem steep rise in its prices in the open market. Sugar prices have surged to Rs70 a kilo.

According to reports, the government is mulling a crackdown against sugar mills for selling the commodity at higher price. However, it may be reminded that when the government launched a crackdown on sugar mills last year, following the SC directive to ensure availability of sugar, the commodity disappeared from the market and its price almost doubled in a matter of days.

Pakistanis consume 26kg of sugar per person annually. According to the Ministry of Industries and Production figures, around 170 million require about 4.4 million tonnes against the expected production of 3.1 million tonnes this year. If we reduce sugar consumption by one kg per person in a year, it can save 200,000 tonnes of sugar and Rs650 million with the current international price of the commodity. The government should encourage sugar-beet. The Competition Commission should also investigate and pursue allegations of cartels in sugar industry.