Farmer organisations including the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) have urged farmers to practice restraint and not part with their cane in haste unless a decision is taken on the first cane installment to be given to farmers.
The start to Maharashtra’s cane crushing season of 2017-8 promises to be stormy. Farmer organisations including the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) have urged farmers to practice restraint and not 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. The production this season is likely to come up to some 245 lakh tonnes across the country and the annual consumption of the country also comes up to the same amount, he pointed out. The carry forward stocks of sugar are also less as compared to the previous years, he said. Farmers should not be in a hurry to dispose off cane to factories and should wait until they get a better price, he said.
Shetti said that the Sanghatana will hold its annual meet at Jaisinghpur near Kolhapur on October 28 before the start of the season (as is the usual practice) to decide on the cane price to be demanded from sugar factories. A decision will be taken on first cane installment to be given to farmers here, he said.
Last year, the Sanghatana had demanded Rs 3,000 as the first cane installment to be given to farmers. The first cane installment is usually considered important because it sets the tone for the season ahead. This time there is a 28% drop in cane production in western Maharashtra. Shetti said that unless the factories agree to a good price for cane, they will not be allowed to start crushing. The Sanghatana has risen in strength over the years on the issue of cane payments.
The state will, for the first time, be seeing revenue sharing between growers and mills as per the 70:30 formula recommended by the C Rangarajan Committee. The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana has demanding clarity on the proposed revenue-sharing formula, which is yet to be implemented.
Sugar prices in the last one year have also seen a steady rise, which the Sanghatana wants to be taken into account for the revenue sharing formula.
Last year several mills had the unsold stock of 2015-16 but had produced little or, in some cases, no sugar for the 2016-17 season.Shetti pointed out that some of the mills in the Kolhapur region had paid Rs 2,800 per tonne as first installment, although they did not have any byproducts while some of the mills that wanted to show off a strong balance sheet declared a cane price of Rs 3,900 per tonne. Both of these were wrong, he said.