About one and a half months after the sugar season in Maharashtra has commenced, farmers continue to wait for fair and remunerative price (FRP) payments for the new season of 2018-19. The season commenced on October 20 and several factories commenced crushing after the first week of the Diwali celebrations. As per the Sugarcane Control Act , after factories start crushing, the first FRP payments to farmers has to be made after 14 days of the crushing. According to senior officials of the Sugar Commissionerate, barring two to three factories, the commissionerate is yet to be informed of any reports of payments that have been made to farmers. Significantly, Sugar Commissioner Sambhaji Kadu Patil also retired last week. Shekar Gaikwad, director of the Groundwater Survey Development Agency (GSDA) has been given the additional charge of the Sugar Commissionerate.Currently, he is on election duty in Rajasthan and expected to take charge after December 15. Officials at the Commissionerate said data regarding two to three factories which have made payments will be collected this week. Because of the drought situation and the white grub attack on the crop, farmers in the state are in a hurry to harvest cane so that the recovery rates are not hit badly. However, there is little demand in the market for sugar and tenders floated by millers are near the Minimum Floor Price of `2,900 per quintal fixed by the Centre. Therefore, it seems difficult for factories to be able to gather funds to make cane payments to farmers, industry sources revealed. Mukesh Kuvediya, secretary general, Bombay Sugar Merchants Association, pointed out the demand was on the lower side because of winter and lesser demand for soft drinks and ice-creams. Barring Christmas at the end of the month, there is no other festival and since the government has released an adequate quota of 19.5 lakh tonne, the demand supply situation had been maintained, he said. At present, S-30 grade is trading between `2,900 to `2,940 per quintal and M-30 grade is trading at `2,980 to `3,030 per quintal, a little above the MLP of `2,900 per quintal. There is not much movement and the international market as well is stable, he said. Kuvediya highlighted that the situation was likely to remain the same throughout the month. The government has imposed a cap on monthly sale of sugar by mills to regulate supply in the market and to prop up domestic prices. For November, the government had restricted sugar sales by mills in the country at 22 lakh tonne. Yogesh Pande, spokesperson, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, said in the absence of the sugar commissioner and the regional deputy registrars of Aurangabad, Nanded and Pune which have around 120 mills operating in these regions, things are in a flummox at the Commissionerate. More than 30 mills are crushing without licence and no action is being taken, he alleged. Moreover, Uttar Pradesh mills enjoy a logistical advantage and will be able to sell their entire quota as compared to Maharashtra although prices are on the lower side. He said the first priority of the farmer outfit was to ensure that farmers harvest cane as soon as possible to prevent any further impact on the recovery rate of cane in the state and payments could be collected later. Cane arrears for the last season are around `65 crore as per the data gathered by officials. Pande, however, alleged several factories are yet to make payments.