Maharashtra’s sugar season is set to get stormier with the meeting between farmer organisations and sugar millers remaining inconclusive in Pune.
While millers in western Maharashtra’s cane-rich Sangli and Kolhapur regions agreeing to pay R175 per tonne over and above the fair and remunerative price (FRP) fixed by the Centre as the first cane installment, millers in the rest of Maharashtra did not come forward with any assurances to pay up a similar amount. As a result, farmer organisations such as the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and the Raghunathdada Patil-led Shetkari Sanghatana have given the millers time till November 25 to arrive at a solution, failing which the organisations have threatened to stop millers from crushing cane November 26 onwards.
A meeting between Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis with a group of ministers is expected to be called this week in which a policy decision is expected to be taken on the issue of FRP for the state, Subhash Deshmukh, Maharashtra minister for cooperation said. The minister said all attempts are being made to ensure that the season of goes on smoothly.
Deshmukh pointed out that some of the millers were cutting the FRP amounts of farmers under the pretext of keeping them as deposits with the factories. The minister warned that such steps would be considered illegal and strict action would be taken against such factories, adding that most millers in the Solapur region were indulging in such tactics. Such deposits should be accepted by the factories only with the consent of farmers, failing which the amounts should be returned to them, he said.
Test audits will be conducted in factories soon and the government is committed to taking strict action against any illegal moves by millers, he said. The minister said the proposal of farmer organisations seeking scrapping of the 15-km radius between two factories will be considered by the government soon and an appropriate decision will be taken soon after considering the pros and cons, he said. Millers in Maharashtra have paid 97% of the FRP dues of farmers for the season of 2015-16 and those factories that have failed to make the payments will not be given crushing licences, he said.
At the meeting, which was led by Dilip Walse Patil, chairman of the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories, milllers said it will be difficult for them to make high payments. Farmers, however, claimed higher payment should be given on account of higher costs of production and a rise in sugar prices by 40% over the previous year. The meeting was called off without