Fair and Remunerative Price to farmers: Maharashtra sugar mills pay 58.53% dues

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Published: January 14, 2020 12:21:30 AM

The total FRP payable was Rs 1,771.82 crore, according to the data released by the Maharashtra Sugar Commissionerate.

Around 50% sugar mills in Maharashtra could not start crushing this season due to lower cane availability.Around 50% sugar mills in Maharashtra could not start crushing this season due to lower cane availability.

Sugar mills in Maharashtra have paid 58.53% of the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) dues to farmers totalling Rs 1,037.13 crore for the season of 2019-20. Around 41.54% of the FRP arrears of Rs 735.93 crore are yet to be paid to farmers. The total FRP payable was Rs 1,771.82 crore, according to the data released by the Maharashtra Sugar Commissionerate.

Maharashtra Cane Control Board’s Prahlad Ingole has approached the chief secretary of the state government, secretary of the cooperation and Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner seeking 15% interest in dues from those factories that have failed to make any FRP payments to farmers. Ingole claimed that several factories in Nanded region have not paid farmers at all and are making payments to farmers as per their convenience.Seeking immediate action against such factories, Ingole pointed out that an interest of 15% should be levied on the FRP payments. Not a single factory in Parbhabi, Hingoli, Nanded and Latur districts have cleared farmers’ dues. Instead, they have paid only small amounts, and yet, notices have not been issued to these farmers, he said, adding, this is causing financial distress to farmers.

So far 113 factories in Maharashtra have crushed 796.56 lakh tonne cane and 75 factories have not cleared FRP dues to farmers. Around 38 factories have made 100% FRP payments to farmers, 5 factories have made 80-99% payments, 7 factories have made 60-70% FRP payments, while 26 factories have paid less than 59% to farmers. So far no RRCs have been issued to any factory and the FRP dues of the previous season stand at Rs 452.92 crore.

Barely a month after the commencement of crushing operations in the state, a couple of cooperative sugar factories in Maharashtra — located in Ahmednagar and Aurangabad regions — have already shut down crushing.The sugar season in Maharashtra is currently in full swing but the majority of the mills are expected to finish their operations by the end of January 2020 because of lower acreage, diversion of cane for fodder and crop losses due to floods.

While mills in Marathwada region are expected to start shutting down by the end of January, some factories in Western Maharashtra may continue crushing until the end of February, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Sugar Commissioner’s office has reduced sugar production estimates to 52 lakh tonne, citing diversion of cane to fodder and ethanol production. Earlier, the commissioner had estimated Maharashtra’s sugar production to touch 58 lakh tonne. Around 24 mills will be producing ethanol while six mills have started producing ethanol directly from cane juice, he said.

According to market reports, oil marketing companies are planning to penalise them for not delivering ethanol as committed for this year. Around 50% sugar mills in Maharashtra could not start crushing this season due to lower cane availability.

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