The deadlock over the first cane installment to be paid to farmers by sugar millers in Maharashtra has been finally broken. Sugar millers from South Maharashtra have agreed to pay Rs 200 per tonne over and above the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP). The start of the season was in jeopardy with both millers and farmer organisations disagreeing over the first cane installment to be made to growers. While millers insisted on payment of FRP as the first installment of cane price, cane growers led by farmer organisation Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) had demanded Rs 3,400 per tonne as the cane payment. The state’s sugar season has gotten off to a violent start with cane workers being prevented from cutting cane, vehicle tyres being deflated and vehicles bring prevented from reaching factories by farmer organisation members. Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) — one of the most aggressive organisations in the state has demanded a first cane installment of Rs 3,400 per tonne while the Raghunathdada Patil led Shetkari Sanghatana has demanded a a first cane installment of Rs 3,500 per tonne. The Raghunathdada Patil led Shetkari Sanghatana has not agreed to this solution and has threatened to continue its agitation. The meeting called by Maharashtra’s cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh with sugar factory representatives and farmer organisations that have been warring for a first cane installment of Rs 3,400 per tonne ended in a deadlock. Gaurdian minister of Kolhapur Chandrakanat Patil also led a couple of rounds of talks with the Sanghatana and cane growers.Raju Shetti,SSS leader said that the organisation will now try to get the same formula of the cane price implemented across the rest of the state.
According to Shetti, the first `100 of the amount would be paid along with the FRP within a fortnight of the harvest while the remaining amount would be paid two months into the season. He said that in view of the increased FRP this year, the farmer’s actual realisation would be Rs 325 per tonne more than last year. Sugar recovery rates in Sangli and Kolhapur in South Maharashtra is around 12.50% and cane growers are expected to be paid Rs 325 per tonne more than last year.
Growers in Kolhapur and Sangli are expected to be paid Rs 2,600 per tonne and Rs 3,250 per tonne of the cane crushed. The highest FRP is expected to be around Rs 3,250 per tonne at a recovery rate of 13%. Sugar prices in India have been ruling high for more than a year now, with retail consumers paying Rs 42-45 per kg even during the festival season.
Fearing a further rise in prices due to scarce supply in the state, the central government had asked sugar mills to advance sugarcane crushing operations by a month to October. The Indian Sugar Mills Association too had all along been promising the government to begin crushing season early to ease supply side tightness.
In UP, the government has hiked the state advised price (SAP) of sugarcane, which is normally higher than FRP, from Rs 305 per quintal to Rs 310 per quintal in 2017-18. Maharashtra, the second biggest sugar producer, will start operations from November 1. This season Maharashtra estimates a sugarcane yield of 722 lakh tonnes and sugar production of 73.4 lakh tonnes.