KARACHI - The Agriculture Department, Government of Sindh, has notified the new minimum support price of sugarcane at Rs81-40kg and beginning of crushing season of crop from November 10, 2008. Last year the sugarcane support price was Rs 63/40-kg. After consultation with the representatives of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association and growers, the department had issued notification of the support price and period of crushing season of sugarcane of current season. It may be noted here that Punjab government had already set the sugarcane support price at Rs80-40 kg for current season.   Under Sugarcane Control Act 1954, the sugar mills will not buy the crop below the prescribed minimum support price of Rs81-40 kg from growers. A representative of PSMA Sindh zone while talking to The Nation said that they have accepted the new support price of sugarcane, but they expressed some reservations over this increase before the government. In overall terms, setting the support price at new height of Rs81-40 kg, at least 45 percent increase have been made in sugarcane price in current season against Rs63-40 kg of last season, he pointed out and added, the increasing oil prices and electricity have already increased the cost of doing business so these facts must be taken into consideration while government setting new prices of the sugarcane. Besides, the recent increase in minimum wages to Rs6000 per month was another financial burden on the sugar industry, he argued, adding that the increasing cost of other inputs of sugar industry must be kept in mind by the government. PSMA representative further said, "We are not against this increase in support price of crop and benefits for growers but the equal relief must be given to the sugar industry as huge difference of over Rs50 persisted in the support price of sugarcane and ex-mill rate of sugar in current seasons which was not viable for the survival of the industry".   Keeping in view of notified support price of crop, the PSMA leader was of the view that the ex-mill rate of sugar must not less than Rs35 per kg otherwise the present notified support price will not be justifiable for industry. He said sugar mills will start crushing season from November 10 but government make it sure for supply of sugarcane to mills. Meanwhile, growers' representatives termed the notified support price of crop were less than their demand but they were ready to accept it. They emphasized government should take measures for timely starting of crushing season. While Cane Commissioner of Sindh Nazeer Hussain Jamali while talking to The Nation said the provincial government will implement its decision regarding support price and beginning of crushing season of sugarcane. He informed that the Sugarcane Control Act authorized the department/Cane Commissioner for the implementation of its notification. The agriculture department has powers to lodge FIRs against the sugar millers who not comply with the rules of the government as FIRs have already been lodged against the administration of default mills who were failed in payment of arrears to growers, he concluded.