Low MSP, lack of encouragement cited as reason for crisis in the sector

The amount less than the Minimum Support Price (MSP) being paid for sugarcane farmers and crop diversion has pushed the sugar industry into a crisis in the State.

Even as the sugar factories are getting profits in crores, the managements are not paying reasonable price to the farmers forcing them to go for alternative crops. Privatisation of cooperative sugar factories and poor functioning of Sugarcane Farmers' Welfare Associations in the State are causing much loss to the farmers, opine Communist parties.

Recently, Major Industries and Sugar Minister J. Geeta Reddy held discussions with the representatives of Southern States Sugar Mills Association who agreed to pay Rs.2,200 per tonne.

Crop diversion

Owing to crop diversion, less MSP and negligence of the government which stood in fifth place in sugarcane growing went to sixth place and the cultivation area has come down to 1.8 lakh hectares from 2.7 lakh hectares.

Speaking to The Hindu, CPI (ML) State committee member Muppalla Bhargavasri said that out of 18 cooperative sugar mills existing in the State in 2004, only 11 mills were under operation and even the existing factories were not fully functional, he said.

The government had given the Hanuman Junction Cooperative Sugar Factory to Deccan Sugars at cheaper price and seven mills, including the Nijam Sugars, were privatised.

The KCP Sugar Factory management, located at Challapalli in Krishna district, declared Rs.11-crore profit during 2008-09, Rs.23 crore in 2009-10, and Rs.12 crore for 2010-11. But, the farmers, depending on the crop, were not in a position to repay the loan, said Mr. Bhargavasri.

Unfulfilled promise

The KCP management announced to pay Rs.2,050 per tonne and promised to increase the subsidy for farmers. The Delta Sugars management located at Hanuman Junction too agreed to pay the same amount to the farmers.

Following the assurance, the farmers increased sugar crop in Krishna district, but the managements were not paying the assured amount to the farmers, he alleged.

The farmers would launch an agitation under the aegis of ‘Akhilapaksham' for MSP seeking fair deal to sugarcane farmers, he said.