The Government hopes to table the Bill to replace the ordinance on sugarcane pricing in Parliament next week, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said here after chairing a meeting of major political parties.
The meeting remained inconclusive as leaders from southern States raised an objection to the removal of a provision (Section 5A) from the Sugarcane Control Order, 2009, that provided for millers to share profits with farmers, particularly in States that used to pay the minimum statutory price for sugarcane. The Order forms a part of the proposed Bill that is to replace the ordinance.
The Government held the view that by replacing the MSP with a Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) — through the ordinance — it had factored in “profit and risk” in the minimum cane price that would be given to farmers. This, however, did not satisfy leaders of southern parties, who will have another round of talks with Mr. Pawar and representatives of farmers’ organisations.
“On every issue, there can’t be a consensus. However, discussions are held to sort out the issues. I would convene a meeting of MPs of southern States on section 5A,” Mr. Pawar told journalists.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj, who was present at the meeting, said the Government apprised them of the impact of the restoration of Section 5A. She added that the Centre explained that the FRP would allow for “upfront payment” to cane growers as it was the minimum fair price set by the Government. “FRP or SAP [State Advised Price] would not be linked to recovery,” Ms. Swaraj added.
CPI support for FRP
Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said the interests of farmers as well as consumers should be kept in mind, and that the process of consultation with all stakeholders should continue. His colleague Gurudas Dasgupta, who was also present at the meeting, said his party supported the system of FRP as farmers would henceforth get instant payment, while in the earlier system, there was deferred payment.
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Ajit Singh, for whom restoration of the SAP was the major issue, said that for States that had SAP, Section 5A was not an issue.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Singh said millers in Uttar Pradesh had agreed to pay Rs.25 per quintal over and above the SAP of Rs.165-170 per quintal announced by the State government.
As a consequence, the RLD called off its chakka jaam (road-block) agitation on Thursday. Mr. Singh said his party would watch whether the millers and sugarcane samitis were satisfied with the cane price of Rs.190-195 per quintal announced by millers.
Wednesday’s meeting was attended, among others, by leaders of the Congress, BJP, RLD, CPI(M), CPI, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (Secular), AIADMK, DMK and TDP.