Various farmers’ associations have demanded a procurement price of Rs.3,000 per tonne of sugarcane as against Rs.2,350 announced by the State government.

In a statement, C.Vyapuri (United Farmers’ Association), T.Gurusamy (Bharathiya Kisan Sangh), and C.Nallasamy (Tamil Nadu Toddy Movement), alleged that the failure of the State government to get the just price for sugarcane would ruin agriculture in Tamil Nadu.

They said that the sugar mills had destroyed the jaggery units. The effluents generated from mills in the form of molasses is the raw material for distillery units. But sugarcane suppliers do not get any share from the sale of molasses.

Just because the production of the distilleries keeps rising day by day, even the “unripe” sugarcane is crushed by the sugarmills to provide the distillery units adequate raw material. “This is atrocious,” they lamented.

They said this Pongal had turned out to be a “dark” one for them because there was a slump in production and discrimination in price.

They asserted that their demand for Rs.3,000 per tonne of sugarcane is fully justified. “The State should realise this,” they added.

They also said “sweetness” is a quality provided not only by sugarcane but also by ‘palmgur’. Palmyra trees do not need irrigation, they just need minimal maintenance, they protect the environment, and prevent globe warming.

Toddy, which has been produced in the country since time immemorial, is respected in all the tropical countries. Except in Tamil Nadu, toddy is not banned anywhere in the world.

The ban order was issued in 1987 when former Chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran was unwell.Just because the palm industry has been so curtailed, palmgur, which is a siddha food item, is sold for just Rs.160-180 a kilogram.

The ban on toddy is against nature, they alleged, and declared that palm workers and farmers would join hands to treat the birthdays of M.G.Ramachandran, former Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi and current Chief Minister Jayalalithaa as days of “mourning”.