Muzaffarnagar riots leave bitter taste for UPs sugar industry

Written by Deepa Jainani | Lucknow | Updated: Oct 2 2013, 08:38am hrs
The riots in Muzaffarnagar have left the UP sugar sector in a bitter state. Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur, the two districts that together form the Muzaffarnagar division, were expected to produce around 209 lakh quintals of cane, out of total 1,400 lakh tonnes, for the 2013-14 sugar season.

This was supposed to feed the 18 sugar mills in these two districts. In effect, this is approximately 15% of the total cane produced by UP .

In fact, during the last season, cane worth Rs 4,000 crore was sold by the farmers of this division only.

Muzaffarnagar is also Asia's biggest jaggery (gur) mandi.

However, with the entire social fabric of Muzaffarnagar and its adjoining districts of Meerut, Saharanpur and Bijnore disturbed, farming is the last thing on the minds of the people there.

The situation in Muzaffarnagar and its adjoining districts is terrible. There is a deep sense of insecurity which will hurt the sugar industry really hard this year, said Chaudhry Pritam Singh, an 80-year-old veteran farmer of the region.

Chaudhry, who was in Lucknow to attend the cane reservation meeting organised by the cane department in Lucknow, felt that in this "environment of anarchy and instability, fear is no longer a perception, it is a real threat.

Speaking about the effects of the riots on sugar industry another farmer, Yogesh Dahiya, is of the view that the sugar industry in the region is in bad shape.

The industry is in for a shock here. It has to write off almost 25% of the estimation production, chiefly because of the riots and its effects on cane farming and also because farmers today are totally disillusioned. With huge cane arrears still pending, many farmers are in no mood to sell their cane to the millers. They fear that next year too, they will not get their payments on time. They prefer to sell it to khandsari units at a lesser price or use the crop as fodder and get immediate cash rather than sell it to the sugar mills and wait for almost a year for their money, he said, adding that it will be impossible for the industry to survive when the raw material itself is lacking.