A delegation of 15 AIADMK MPs, from both the Houses of Parliament, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Wednesday and urged him to increase the fair and remunerative price of sugarcane substantially and also impress upon the Tamil Nadu government to increase its component so that cane farmers got at least Rs.2,500 per tonne in the State.
Dr. Singh promised to look into the matter when they told him that if no action was taken sugarcane fields in the State would turn into barren lands as farmers, who failing to get sufficient price for their produce, might not be able to go for alternative crop such as paddy as it needed more water.
AIADMK Parliamentary party leader M. Thambidurai, who led the delegation, told The Hindu that the MPs persuaded Dr. Singh to do something on the issue and ask the Tamil Nadu government to increase its contribution from the present Rs.139 per tonne.
They also handed over a letter of party general secretary Jayalalithaa to the Prime Minister on the issue. She cautioned that if the Centre failed to take action, “sugarcane production will come to a virtual halt, sugarcane cultivators will be driven to the brink and the State will face a major deficit in sugar, forcing it to go in for large-scale import and this in turn will push up the sugar price far beyond the reach of the common man.” Though cane farmers produce “sweet-tasting sugarcane, their lives have turned extremely bitter.” During her regime in 2005-06 they were paid Rs.1,014 per tonne, of which Rs.795 was the price fixed by the Centre and Rs.219 was the Tamil Nadu government’s contribution. Sugar was then available in the open market at Rs.12.50-14 per kg.
Today (2009-10) though the Centre had hiked the price to Rs.1,298.40, the DMK regime had reduced the State government’s price to mere Rs.139, restricting the benefit to farmers to Rs.1,437.40 per tonne.
In the open market, the sugar price had gone up to Rs.44 per kg now.
The support price for sugarcane in Uttar Pradesh was Rs. 2,100 per tonne and most other States provided support prices much higher than what was being given by the Tamil Nadu government, she said, adding sugar mills in some of the northern states even paid as much as Rs.2,250 per tonne.