They want to chalk out an action plan to press for their demands

Sugar factories are able to make ends meet or even make a small profit working at half their production capacity, but the cane growers seem to be struggling with the cost of production which has doubled.

Sugarcane growers from all over the State will come to the city on Friday to thrash out their differences and chalk out an action plan to press for their long pending demands.

‘Do or die’ situation

The sugarcane growers in the State seem to be facing a ‘do or die’ situation. The State and Central governments have been turning a blind eye to the demand to fix the Minimum Support Price for a tonne of sugarcane at Rs. 3,500 for over three years now.

Not counting the incentives the sugarcane farmers are being paid just Rs. 2,100 per tonne.

While the recommendations of the Rangarajan Committee to decontrol sugar were being implemented “indirectly” the sugarcane growers were not being given the freedom to sell their produce to the highest bidder. It was binding on them to sell their cane to the nearest factory.

The Federation of Sugarcane Growers’ Association, A.P, secretary N. S. V. Sharma talking to The Hindu said that the Rangarajan Committee recommended that all the states do away with the payment of the Advisory Price (SAP).

The cost of production had doubled from Rs 60,000 an acre to between Rs 1.3 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh. But the annual increase in price was just Rs. 30 to Rs 40. a tonne, Mr. Sharma said. The cost of labour, diesel (used for transportation and land preparation), manures and pesticides had increased manifold in the three years, he said.

Farmer ignored

The income of the factories and the State government from sugarcane and by-products had increased tremendously, but the farmer was not getting his fair share, Mr Sharma said.

The combine production/crushing capacity of the 40 odd sugar factories in the State was 200 lakh tonnes per annum.

With a drastic fall in sugarcane production the cane available for crushing had fallen to 100 lakh tonnes. The production during 2013-14 (season is from November to April) was being predicted to be about 80 lakh tonnes, Mr. Sharma said.

The federation had been demanding that the farmers be given a 50 per cent share in the income from by-products like molasses, bagasse and filter mud for the past nine years to no avail, he said.

The re-implementation of the Bhargava Formula and the State Advisory Price were also on the list of demands.

The cane growers will chalk out an agitation programme to achieve their demands at the meeting to be held at the Vijayawada Press Club on Friday.

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