According to Crop Reporting Service (CRS) data, Punjab has sown the sugarcane crop on 2.148 million acres for Kharif 2021-22, exceeding the official target of 1.880 million acres by more than 14 percent, as more farmers have been consistently hit by cotton failure are rapidly shifting to alternative crops.
According to CRS Director Dr. Abdul Qayyum, the sugarcane plantation objective has been met for the second consecutive year, despite the fact that this season’s sowing is 11 percent greater than the previous season when the crop was seeded on 1.920 million acres.
Sugarcane acreage might have been much larger if hybrid rice types had not made it difficult.
According to Dr. Abdul Qayyum, all indications are pointing to a strong harvest, and he expects sugar output to be 26 percent higher, at 63.065 million tonnes, compared to the objective of 50 million tonnes.
Mills typically crush around 75% of total sugarcane production.
Farmers in south Punjab claim that the failure of cotton crops year after year is forcing them to search for alternatives, and they have discovered that cane is one of the finest substitutes. During the last few years, land under white lint has fallen nearly by half, from 6.2 million acres to 3.2 million acres.
“Cotton producers have been losing money for the previous five years owing to low yields and increased production costs. They consider sugarcane to be a superior option to white lint since, unlike white lint, it does not require much care while also ensuring high returns, at least in a previous couple of years,” says Pakistan Kisan Ittehad President Khalid Khokhar.
Mr. Qayyum, told: “Better pricing of sugarcane crop during the past season persuaded the producers to put additional territory under the cultivation.” In some cases, they received Rs300 per maund for their goods, compared to the statutory minimum support price of Rs200 per maund.”
Mr. Khokhar, on the other hand, is cautious. “The producers may not profit from the greater harvest if the sugar mills do not start the cane crushing season on time,” he says, emphasizing that the crushing must begin by Nov 10 so that farmers have enough time to give their output to the mills.
Punjab Cane Commissioner Muhammad Zaman Wattoo acknowledges that the growers will be at the mercy of the sugar millers due to the short window of crushing. He said his office would ask the government to force the crushing season to begin at least on the dates it began last year, “between November 10 and 15.”
The Sugar Advisory Board will meet at the end of September, a month before the start of the crushing season, as is customary, to examine the sugarcane minimum support price problem, he says.