Special Correspondent

Chief Minister responds to farmers’ demand

CHENNAI: Sugar cane farmers in the State will be paid Rs. 1,550 per tonne for the crushing year 2009-2010.

The government fixed the State Advised Price of Rs. 1,437.40. The price was Rs. 359.8 over and above the Statutory Minimum Price determined by the Central government. The SMP announced by the Centre was Rs. 1,077.60 per tonne linked to 9.5 per cent recovery.

Besides, transport charges of Rs. 90 per tonne and recovery-based incentive of Rs. 22.6 would be paid to the cane farmers. An official release issued on Thursday stated that Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi fixed the price, responding to the farmers’ plea that the Centre’s SMP was not adequate.

[According to official documents, sugar cane is cultivated by about five lakh farmers in the State. The registered sugar cane crop is raised on an area of 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh hectares, comprising of two per cent of the total cultivable area. An average of 300 agricultural mandays is generated for cultivation of one hectare of cane. Besides, the sugar industry employs directly and indirectly around 50,000 persons.]

The official release said this year’s payment to the farmers would be Rs. 330 more than that of the previous year. For 2008-2009, it was Rs. 1,220 per tonne. “Such an increase in a year has never been done,” the release stated, adding that Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra did not pay over and above the SMP fixed by the Centre.

Disappointing

The SAP announced by the government for sugar cane was disappointing, said Tamil Nadu Vivasaigal Sangham general secretary K. Balakrishnan.

In a statement here on Thursday, Mr. Balakrishnan said the procurement price was not commensurate with the cultivation cost. The government, while fixing the price, had not taken into consideration increase in input cost, including fertilizers. Already a substantial number of cane farmers had given up sugar cane cultivation as they found it un-remunerative. Many private sugar mills had agreed to pay more than the government’s SAP and were ready to give the incentive. The government should follow the private mills’ example.

He urged the State to increase the SAP to Rs. 2000 per tonne, which was demanded by farmers at a recent tri-partite meeting.

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