The 2016-17 sugar season in Maharashtra is likely to bear the brunt of the demonetisation move from the next week onwards when payments will have to be made to labourers engaged in the sector. Out of 110 factories which have got licence, as many as 67 mills have begun crushing in the state.
Top officials of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation (MSCSFF) said that the payment issues will begin to crop up next week onwards when the labourers will have to be paid. Sanjeev Babar, MD of the federation, said that if the situation does not improve soon, crushing in the state could also be impacted.
Maharashtra’s cane season has gotten off to a stormy start on November 5 after disputes with farmer organisations over the first instalments on cane payments to be made to farmers.
According to Babar, although contractors are given advances to make payments to labourers, issues could arise when labourers may require cash in hand for daily expenses. There are difficult days ahead for the industry which is already facing problems on several counts, he said.
The state has over 5 lakh labourers who are mostly paid in cash by contractors. According to state sugar commissioner Vipin Sharma, most of the labourers are contracted before season and therefore payments should not be a problem. However, he agreed that these labourers, like the rest of the population, are also likely to face difficulties to meet their daily expenses.
Since the crushing season has commenced on November 5, the payment cycle for fair and remunerative price (FRP) comes up by December 15 but this should not pose much of a problem since farmers are given payments through banks, he said.