All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa, leading a demonstration here to highlight the problems of sugarcane farmers, alleged that sugarcane cultivation in Tamil Nadu was facing an uncertain future owing to the anti-farmer policies of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government.

“In many districts, farmers have burnt down the standing crops because they could not get remunerative prices,” she said. She was participating in a public protest outside Chennai after a gap of more than two years. In 2007, she had led a demonstration at Udhagamandalam demanding the dismissal of the DMK government on the ground that Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had hurt the sentiments of Hindus while commenting on the Ram Sethu.

Ms. Jayalalithaa demanded Rs.2,500 per tonne of sugarcane, besides urging the State government to direct sugar mills to bear the cutting charges. She arrived here in a helicopter. Clad in black, she peppered her speech and slogans with M.G.R. (M.G. Ramachandran) film songs, to drive home the point that the DMK government had let down the farmers. Stating that sugar production in the State had come down from 21.38 lakh tonnes in 2005-06 to 16.16 lakh tonnes in 2008-09, she argued that the lower sugar production would create a vicious cycle. “The State will be forced to import sugar and this in turn will jack up the market price and severely affect the common man.”

Explaining the measures taken during her regime to provide succour to sugarcane farmers, Ms. Jayalalithaa said when the Centre had announced Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) of Rs.795 per tonne of sugarcane, she offered State Advisory Price (SAP) of Rs.210. This enabled the farmers to get Rs.1,014 per tonne of sugarcane.

Similarly, when sugar price was Rs.1,250 per quintal in the open market, her government had offered Rs.1,014 per tonne of sugarcane.

“But now the market price of sugar has increased to Rs.4,000 per quintal but the present government is giving only Rs.1,437.40 per tonne of sugarcane,” she pointed out.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said that during her rule the price of sugar in the open market ranged between Rs.12.50 and Rs.14 per kg.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said that on January 11 she raised the issue in the Assembly urging the government to offer remunerative prices for sugarcane, but it had fallen on deaf ears.

Senior party leaders O. Panneerselvam, C. Ponnaiyan, K.A. Sengottaiyan, C.Ve. Shanmugham and others participated.