Even as some farmer organisations in Maharashtra have placed a demand for a first advance of Rs 3,200 per quintal for the sugar season of 2017-18, all eyes are now on the annual cane meet to be held in Jaisinghpur in Kolhapur in Western Maharashtra on Saturday where the more aggressive Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) is expected to announce its demand for the first cane payment for farmers. Maharashtra is slated to commence its crushing season on November 1. Farmer organisations are already gearing up for a battle ahead for a better payment this year. Millers, however, say that high cane payments in the range of Rs 3,000 per tonne are possible only if sugar realisations are in the range of Rs 35-36 per kg.
According to Shivajirao Nagawade, chairman, Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation ( MSCSFF), with stock limits declared by the Centre, sugar prices have already come down by Rs 100-125 per quintal (from Rs 3,650 per tonne to Rs 3510 per tonne). Therefore, it could be difficult for millers to meet the demands.
“Such high payments should be possible for mills in Western Maharashtra, including Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara and Karad that have higher recovery levels of 12.5% to 12.75% and for mills who make money with byproducts,” he said .Though the Centre has already announced a Fair and Remunerative Price, raising it by 10.6% over previous year’s Rs 2,300 per tonne to Rs 2550 per tonne, each state government can decide its own sugarcane price over and above FRP. In Maharashtra, farmers’ organisations have asked farmers not to part with their cane in haste unless a decision is taken on the first cane installment to be given to farmers. Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti said that this time cane would be in short supply because of the drop in acreage and therefore farmers would be in a better position to command better prices from factories.