In the wake of the Rangarajan Committee report that has recommended far-reaching changes in the sugar policy, the farmers across the nation have joined hands to form Indian Sugarcane Farmers’ Association, according to R.V.Giri, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu chapter of the Consortium of Indian Farmers’ Associations (CIFA).

Mr Giri said the national conference of the sugarcane farmers held recently in Bangalore under the aegis of the CIFA had unanimously agreed to the two recommendations of the committee such as dispensing with the levy sugar obligation on sugar mills and also doing away with the quantitative restrictions on sugar sale in the open market.

However, the CIFA noted with concern that another recommendation relating to profit-sharing between the sugarcane farmers and the sugar mills in the ratio of 70: 30 (of the total proceeds to be obtained through the sale of sugar and by-products such as molasses and bagasse) remained a contentious issue.

Recovery rates

Even though the sugar mills were yet to come to terms with the profit-sharing recommendation, there existed a vast disparity among the farmers in terms of varied recovery rate.

Sugarcane raised in the States of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh had an average recovery rate of 9.2 per cent (or in other words 92 kg of sugar can be obtained from every 1,000 tonnes of sugarcane) but their counterparts in the States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Haryana used to get a recovery of up to 11 per cent. Therefore, if the profit sharing formula were to be applied the farmers of the latter four States would stand to gain. Therefore, the CIFA had deemed it fit to form the Indian Sugarcane Farmers’ Association (ISFA) to take up the issues pertaining to the sugarcane farmers at the national level, he said.

The CIFA has authorized the ISFA to hold talks with the Centre as well as with the Indian Sugar mills Association to find solutions to any outstanding issue in the sugar sector.

Since the CIFA was an umbrella organization, comprising farmers raising various crops, it had set up the ‘Sugarcane council’ to deal exclusively with the sugarcane related issues.

In this 11-member council Mr Giri and G. Ajithan of the Salem Cooperative Sugar mills are the members. It would be good for the Tamil Nadu sugarcane farmers if the State government comes forward to discuss the issues touched upon by the Rangarajan committee, Mr. Giri said.