The chorus in the sugar sector urging the government not to import sugar is growing. After the Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation ( MSCSFF), farmer organisations including the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA), Raghunathdada Patil-led Shetkari Sanghatana and the Karnataka State Sugar Growers Association (KSSGA) have come out with a similar appeal. The three organisationa have appealed to the government not to import any sugar, but allow the domestic sugar production to take care of the domestic requirement and not listen to speculators and traders, who are not friends of farmers.
CIFA, Shetkari Sanghatana and KSSGA represent the sugarcane farmers and their associations and forums from the six top sugar producing States of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. These organisations met on the sidelines of another meeting in Delhi on Thursday.
In a representation to the Centre, the farmer organisations thanked the government for the steps taken by them in the last couple of years, to ensure that the sugarcane farmers get their cane price payment on time and also clear the past cane price arrears.
“We are happy to note that the current sugar prices are reasonably good, and are allowing the sugar mills to cover their costs and pay cane price of farmers, because of which the cane price arrears this year is currently almost 50% lower than that of last year at the same time. However, despite the generous help from Uttar Pradesh Government, the arrears in UP is higher though mainly because of five sugar companies which account for almost 70% of the same,” the representation said.
According to Shanta Kumar, president, KSSGA, the meeting was called by officials of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with the support of the Indian Sugar Mills Association and NCDEX to understand the reasons for the drop in cane production and the price rise.
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The farmer organisations have urged the Government to take all necessary steps to get the cane price arrears cleared, without further delay, and if required, take necessary steps to assist the millers in whatever way to improve their cash flows.
An appeal has also been made to encourage farmers to grow sugarcane continuously, crop loans of farmers whose cane price payments of previous years are still due from sugar mills, need to be rescheduled and they should be given further crop loans.
According to the organisations, there is a lot of talk in the market about the shortage of sugar and the need to import sugar to supplement the domestic availability.
“Sugar import at this juncture will result in artificial depression of sugar price that may harm the domestic sugarcane production and farmers. It is noted with concern that almost all of these voices and suggestions are coming from people who have no relationship with or are concerned about the welfare of the sugarcane farmers of the country. In fact, some of these voices are from global traders, who are simply looking to dump sugar in India,” the representation pointed out.
As per market reports, some sugar has already been brought into the country by speculators, who are now putting pressure on the government to reduce import duty so that they can immediately offload their sugar in the country. The group of organisations have appealed to the Government of India not to take any hasty decision on imports which will be disastrous to the farmers of this country and benefit some speculators and farmers of another country.