15 to 20 p.c. decline in production likely in the State in 2013-14

Sugarcane cultivators from the State have urged the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) to fix the procurement price for sugarcane at Rs. 3,500 a tonne.

Kurubur Shanthakumar, president, Karnataka State Sugarcane Cultivators’ Association, who represented the State at the CACP meeting in Delhi on Tuesday, told The Hindu that the commission was apprised of the problems being faced by sugarcane farmers.

The meeting was convened by the commission to apprise itself of the problems being faced by sugarcane cultivators across the country. It was pointed out in the meeting that the cost of cultivation had increased while the support price was lesser the cost price.

“While it costs Rs. 3,000 to cultivate a tonne of sugarcane, the existing support price is Rs. 2,200 and it is grossly inadequate. This has forced many farmers to switch over to other crops and its impact is a decline in sugarcane output,” Mr. Shanthakumar said. In Karnataka, sugarcane farmers were yet to receive Rs. 1,450 crore by way of arrears from sugar factories, he added.

“Low and unrealistic support price coupled with crop failure due to moisture stress have added to farmers’ woes this year. Against 3.10 crore tonne of sugarcane cultivated in Karnataka during 2012-13, it is projected that the production will decline by 15 to 20 per cent and will be around 2.5 crore tonne in 2013-14,” he said.

A similar trend is expected in other major sugarcane cultivating States, including Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, stakeholders said in the meeting.

Other key demand

The other key demand put forward by sugarcane farmers pertained to implementation of the C. Rangarajan Committee report on price fixation. The government has given its nod to remove the levy on sugar and bring the commodity under the Open General Licence system. This benefits the sugar industry. But the committee recommendations that benefit farmers, such as profit sharing formula on byproducts of sugarcane, have been ignored by the government, the stakeholders said.

“We also want the M.S. Swaminathan Commission Report, which has suggested farmer-friendly crop insurance schemes, support services for farmers and their family members, development of agriculture market infrastructure, agricultural loans and institutional credit at reasonable rate of interest, among others, to be implemented in full measure,” Mr. Shanthakumar said.

The meeting was attended by farmers’ representatives from 11 States, sugar industry representatives and members of the commission.

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