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Workshop on the sugarcane industry with emphasis on sugarcane diversification.

Workshop on the Sugarcane Industry with emphasis on Sugarcane diversification

The International Workshop was organised by the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association in collaboration with the UNIDO and the French Government. It was inaugurated by Lt. Gen. (Retd) Abdul Majid Malik Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Government of Pakistan. The Minister disclosed that in pursuance of the Government's commitments to deregulation and self-reliance, the sugar industry has also gone totally in the private sector. The Minister stressed the need for making a qualitative change in boosting the per acre sugarcane yield by way of seeking improvement in sugarcane growth and crushed juice quantity, expanding sugar production as well as making optimum use of sugarcane waste by producing useful products. Although, country's sugarcane industry has advanced in the past, it needed considerable all-round improvement.

Emphasising the importance of research in sugarcane production, he said that the Government had decided to set up additional research institutes for this purpose. Sugarcane production could be improved by increasing per acre yield in addition to using better agricultural inputs. In sugarcane industry are involved the interests of growers, producers and the consumers. Due to fair competition, and interests of the parties concerned, pressures were applied on the Government, which also supported any effort aimed at seeking improvement and excellence.

The Minister stressed the importance of the industrial uses of bagasse and molasses for which research work should be undertaken. The Government will support such efforts. He urged that the manufacture of chipboard and hardboard should be undertaken by making beneficial use of sugarcane waste besides manufacture of industrial alcohol. He also emphasised the importance of increasing the per acre yield of sugarcane, which at 41.4 tonne per acre in Pakistan was the lowest in several countries. He asked for making recommendations by the Workshop which will be supported by the Government.

The Workshop was also addressed by the French Ambassador J.P. Masset. He said that his Government believed in actual and speedy transfer of technology to the developing nations. The French Government had much to offer for the development of agricultural sector, besides undertaking joint ventures leading to boosting of technological and economic levels of these countries. Concrete results were only possible when the necessary research work was undertaken to determine the beneficial aspects by fixing targets. The French appreciated the rapid development of Pakistan's sugar industry.

However, much remained to be done to effect increase in per acre yield of sugarcane. Likewise better and profitable uses of bagasse and molasses could be found out. Sugarcane by-products had high industrial and money value. All that was required was a useful exchange of expertise and practical measures to achieve speedy optimum results. The French envoy hoped that the Workshop would prove an immense help in making recommendations to improve sugarcane production, and uses and Pakistan's agro-industrial economy.

Earlier, the Workshop was addressed by Mr. G.R. Latortue, Director, System of Consultations Division UNIDO. He said that the aims and objectives of the five-day Workshop were to deliberate on the state of sugarcane industry in Pakistan and evolve a strategy to give a further boost to it. He revealed that 16 sugarcane industrialists from Asian countries including Pakistan as well as 15 international experts and potential investors were attending the Workshop deliberations. It was an extremely useful exercise to share experience and improve chances for advancement. Sugarcane productivity could be increased in African, Latin American and Asian countries and the UNIDO expected useful recommendations from the Workshop.

Welcome Address of the Workshop was read by Eng. Syed Abbas Shah, Senator and Chairman Pakistan Sugar Mills Association. He said that watchword of the present Government is "self-reliance" through mobilization of domestic human and material resources without alienating ourselves from the all important cooperation at international level. In fact, efforts are directed towards creating an environment congenial for foreign collaboration in the economic sector through a predominant reliance on the dynamism and initiative of the private enterprise.

The Sugar industry of Pakistan has come of age. For the last three years, average annual production has been over 1.8 million metric tons a year. Cyclical effects have been overcome. The decade of 1980's, particularly the last four years have been promising. The ground has been prepared for rising trend during 1990's. The growth of the sugar production has been checked by sugarcane crop volume, quality of concert not improving in Sindh and diversification of sugarcane in Punjab and the NWFP to raw sugar and gur.

Past experience has shown that there should be vertical expansion of the sugar industry and not horizontal. There are 48 factories in operation and some under installation. Self-sufficiency in sugar is anticipated provided there was sufficient sugarcane. Most of the factories have crushing capacity of 3000 tonnes of sugarcane a day. This capacity was becoming uneconomic as capital cost was now Rs. 600 million per unit. Minimum crushing capacity was 5,000 tonnes with scope to increase it. By international standard minimum requirement is 10,000 tonnes a day. This strategy will minimise fresh fixed capital outlay and enable the sugar industry to become viable.

Vertical development design will help augmenting Government revenues, and saving scarce resources for other areas. However, disadvantages are attached with horizontal development. Sugar industry has numerous problems particularly rising costs. Most of the units are now two decades old and require B.M.R. facilities. Some units need to be shifted to new economic systems. Vertical expansion is the remedy. Proper planning is needed for long-term growth. PSMA plans to set up sugar institutes. We need the assistance of UNIDO/UNDP.

Main theme of this Workshop is the diversification of the sugar industry and a package of programmes should be worked out to provide technical assistance. We shall be grateful for such assistance. Some steps have already been taken in this connection in Pakistan. Bagasse is being used for power generation. Manufacture of value-added products such as acetic acid, butanol acetone, lactic acid, citric acid, aconitic acid, itaconic acid, glycerol, dextron, etc. are limited due to small market. The UNIDO may help us in this regard. Molasses are being exported and these need to be processed locally and by-products, exported. Seven units are producing industrial alcohol but it is not profitable. A sugar mill has set up a unit to produce medium density fibre board. It is considered better than wood and is popular in the furniture market. Mr. Shah made some suggestions also.


A large number of papers were read but here summaries of only two are given as most of the papers were read in French. Mr. Akram, former president of PSMA observed that despite deterrents the sugar industry has advanced toward diversification. For diversification, three aspects should be considered, namely (i) access to raw material, (ii) access to technology and (iii) the market size. For long-term growth of sugar industry long-term planning should be undertaken.

Eng. Syed Abbas Shah read a paper also, theme of which was "Sugarcane Industry in Asia with special reference to Pakistan:". In the world, 60 per cent of sugar is produced from sugarcane and 40% from sugarbeet. Sugarcane grows in tropical and subtropical regions while sugarbeet grows in temperate zones. Per capita sugar consumption in industrialized countries is 50 kg. a year and in surplus developing countries from 30 to 50 kg. a year, while in deficit countries from 5 to 10 kg. In Pakistan, per capita consumption is more than upper limit of the developing countries due to a variety of reasons.

In the world, in 1990-91 cane sugar is expected at 71.437 million tonnes, 2.4 per cent higher than 1989-90. Beet sugar output is likely at 40.659 million tonnes, 4.3 per cent higher than 1989-90. Thus total global output in 1990-91 is expected at 112.096 million tonnes against 108.716 million tonnes in 1989-90. The developing countries are increasing their shares in production, consumption and exports. Production of developing countries is likely to increase from 58 per cent of world total in 1979-81 to 68 per cent in 2000 AD, consumption from 50 per cent to 57 per cent and exports from 68 per cent to 69 per cent, while imports are likely to come down from 39 per cent to 36 per cent.

Most of the Asian countries produce cane sugar. Asia in 1990-91 is likely to account for 35.5 per cent of global cane sugar production, 4 per cent of beet sugar and 26 per cent of total sugar production.
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Title Annotation:Seminar; Pakistan's sugar industry
Author:Khan, Abdul Majid
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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