Interview with Mr Riaz Javed Suleri — Resident Director, Faran Sugar Mills Ltd
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself and Faran Sugar Mills, please:
Riaz Javed Suleri: I am associated with the sugar industry of Pakistan since1983 in public as well as with the private sector. At present, I am working at Faran Sugar Mills in the capacity of Resident Director, which is 18 years old journey.
Faran Sugar Mills is a progressive organization engaged in extensive research and development activities, in collaboration with government as well as private research organizations. Our main emphasis is on growers’ economics, by way of increasing the yield per hectare of sugarcane, mechanized farming, latest technological and agronomical development. Introduction of Laser Leveler Technology, Solar Tub-wells, Deep Ploughing Ridgers, Stubble Shavers, Cane Planters are some of the distinguished steps undertaken by the Cane Department of this Mills. Varietal development is one of the main achievements, which ultimately resulted in 25% increase in the acreage production of sugarcane in this area. Consistent efforts are being made to keep this varietal development of sugarcane at the Mills farm, where 25-30 varieties of sugarcane are always in the pipeline.
Collaboration with (PARC) Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, (NARC), (NIA) Nuclear Institute of Agriculture, Tando Jam, Sugarcane Development Board is a regular feature. Sugarcane supplied to this Mills during crushing season is being analyzed at a well-established Cane Analysis Lab. To keep the growers abreast with the quality of sugarcane supplied, advisory services are available in the form of training of staff and growers, Goth Meetings, Demonstration Plots, Seminars and Pamphlets and proper input application advice. Regular and effective communication with growers through correspondence, meetings, handbills, field demonstration are the means adopted to develop congenial relationship with the growers.
PAGE: Could you tell us about the development in the sugarcane crops of Pakistan?
Riaz Javed Suleri: Sugarcane crop witnessed a record production of 83 million tons and sugar production of 6.6 million tons in 2017-18 but due to inadequate water supply in 2018-19, the sugarcane production declined by 19% and sugar production reduced to 5.3 million tons. The sugarcane production further declined in 2019-20 due to late fixation of price by the government and depressed sugar prices in the market. Due to less availability of crop, the growers were offered higher price and ultimately the sowing trend slightly increased in this current sowing season. Dearth of Research and Development activities in the field of sugarcane are the main factors discouraging the growers to grow sugarcane and are switching to other competitive crops like banana, cotton, maize, which are more lucrative. We have to indulge into prolific research activities with regard to productivity enhancement of sugarcane crop. Recently an institute has been established by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) at Thatta for productivity enhancement of sugarcane, which will work in collaboration with the private sector for the purpose.
PAGE: How effectively is production and distribution of sugar being made in Pakistan and what immediate changes are required?
Riaz Javed Suleri: Sugar industry of Pakistan is capable of producing more than the required quantity of sugar in Pakistan i.e. 5.5 million tons. The regulatory bodies have to formulate policies keeping in view the prevailing conditions. Matters like delayed decisions, ineffective sugarcane advisory bodies, timely export/import phenomenon with fixed parameters need to be addressed seriously. The existing scenario of higher sugar prices is the outcome of these derelictions. The fixation of sugarcane price on quality basis and fixation of sugar price also by the government in line with sugarcane price fixed, may solve these matters once for all. Either we should leave both the commodities to market phenomenon or fix the price of both.
PAGE: Your views on the technology being used for crops and sugar production in Pakistan vis-a-vis the world:
Riaz Javed Suleri: We are far behind in the use of technology in the crop management. Slowly we are adopting technological methods like Laser Land Leveling, Ridgers, Cane Planters, Harvester, Latest Irrigation methods, like, Furrow Irrigation, Drip and Sprinkle Irrigation, Solar Tube-well etc. The pace of introduction of the technological advancement is very slow which is mainly hampering the enhancement of productivity. Intensive cultivation, soil investigation, balanced application of inputs, seed quality and quantity, varietal composition etc are the main factors which need utmost attention.