UP sugarcane farmers threaten stir over prices

Written by Deepa Jainani | Lucknow | Updated: Oct 29 2009, 05:33am hrs
While sugar companies, especially those operating in Uttar Pradesh, have reason to be jubilant on hearing that the Central government is planning to replace the statutory minimum price (SMP), the minimum price that these sugar companies have to pay farmers, with the fair and remunerative price (FRP), in which state governments will have to bear any difference in the tariff that is announced by it in the form of state advised price (SAP), the farmers certainly arent amused.

On the eve of the mahapanchayat of farmers in Bareilly on Thursday, hitherto warring farmers factions such as Mahendra Singh Tikaits Bharatiya Kisan Union, Baba Harkishen Singh Maliks Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and VM Singhs Rashriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, along with their splinter groups have come together have decided to bury their own petty differences in the general interest of the farmers and agitate on the issue of fixing cane price. They will make a plea to the Centre to review its decision and let the sugar industry work on the same lines of free market as do the other sectors.

We have decided to oppose both the governments mechanism of fixing cane price through SAP and FRP and will instead pitchfork for a free market regime in this industry as is the case in other sectors, said Singh adding that Central government wants to act as referee but is forgetting that in becoming so, it has to have an unbiased role. When the government did not intervene when farmers were forced to burn their cane and when the mills increased the price of sugar, why is it interfering to put a cap on the price of sugarcane or letting the mills import raw sugar Why is it providing a reprieve to the millers he asks. He said that he will make a formal request to the Centre tomorrow not to implement the FRP.

According to Rakesh Tikait, the national spokesperson of BKU, the farmers were earlier at the mercy of the state government, after this Bill comes into existence, they will be at the mercy of the Centre. They have no right to hold onto the farmers from bargaining for a better price realisation of their produce. I will request the government not to come in our way. It cannot fix a remunerative price for us. If we get a better price from somewhere else, we should be allowed to go ahead. Competition should not be killed, he states.