With sugarcane farmers on the warpath in UP against the State Advised Price for their produce, the Centre has said sugar mills in the state will have to pay more than the announced rate of Rs 160-170 a quintal.

The assurance was given to a Congress delegation by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar here last night.

“Mr. Pawar has promised that mill owners will have to give much more price to the farmers than the rate decided by the state government,” party general secretary Digvijay Singh, who was part of the delegation, said.

On the outcome of the meeting, UP Party chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi said, “Fair and Remunerative price (FRP) is only the minimum price at which sugarcane can be sold. There is no cap on the maximum price.”

The minister assured the delegation that farmers were free to negotiate with sugar mills for a higher price, she said.

The Centre has fixed FRP of Rs 129.84 a quintal for sugarcane for 2009-10 season (October-September), while UP has announced SAP (State Advised Price) of Rs 160-170 a quintal.

Sugar mills have not started crushing this season for lack of supply as farmers are demanding Rs 280 a quintal.

Mr. Pawar had on Tuesday called a meeting of UP Sugar Mills Association and asked them to pay a higher price to farmers.