‘Many growers shifting to other crops for getting better remuneration’

Sugarcane growers were changing over to other crops like maize which are getting more remunerative prices, and also to palm-oil which is giving regular income, said Federation of Sugarcane Growers’ Associations, A.P., secretary N.S.V.Sharma.

Addressing a meeting of sugarcane growers here on Friday Mr. Sharma and president of the federation Mallela Padmanabhara Rao said that it would be difficult for sugarcane growers to continue unless the government announced a minimum support price of Rs. 3,500 per tonne of sugarcane. The factories were currently paying Rs. 2,100.

Besides MSP the cane growers should be pay Rs. 1,000 State Advisory Price (SAP) per tonne.

The cost of cultivating sugarcane in one acre had increased to Rs 1.30 lakh in the past three years, but there was very little increase in the price of the sugarcane, they said.

Ex-field price

The lion’s share of the income was being spent on transport the sugarcane to the crushing unit. The MSP should therefore be ex-field price so that the cultivators do not have to be burdened with transporting the produce to the factories. Ex-field price was being implemented in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, Mr Sharma said.

CSD Fund

The Central Sugar Development Fund being collected for every tonne of sugarcane was not available to the cane growers.

The factory managements were utilising them as interest free loans for upgrade of machinery and equipment. The fund should be utilised for the mechanisation of sugarcane cultivation to reduce the cost of labour, Mr Sharma said.

The growers also sought 50 per cent of the profit from the by-products like molasses, bagasse and filter mud.

Feeling the pinch

Mr. Sharma said while all the private sugar factories that were running efficiently were breaking even or making a profit, the factories in the cooperative sector were making losses.

This could be because of frequent government interference in management.

Mr. Padmanabha Rao said that corporate companies that required sugar were keeping the price low. While the cost of a kg of rice in the market was Rs. 40 today the price of sugar was just Rs. 26. Earlier a kg of rice was Rs. 1 and a kg of sugar was Rs. 3, three times the price of the food grain.

The sugarcane growers were naturally feeling the pinch, he said.

The cane growers also demanded implementation of Bhargava Formula for computing the share to farmers in profits.

More In: Vijayawada