Farmers growing edible variety of sugarcane in Cuddalore district are in a tight spot because returns this season might be less. Besides decline in volume of production, the size of cane too has decreased owing to various reasons.

Farmers are wondering whether the crop would fetch them returns even to meet the production cost. The area under sugarcane cultivation has drastically come down.

They attribute such a state of affairs to monsoon failure, dip in groundwater level and virtually no canal irrigation. Even if sub-surface water is available, it could not be tapped owing to power shortage.

M. Jayalakshmi (42) of Appiampettai near here, belonging to a traditional farming community, told The Hindu that earlier she used to raise sugarcane on four acres of land. But, lack of rain had forced her to cut down the area and grow cane only on an acre.

However, the crop did not flourish as enough water could not be obtained periodically.

This had reduced the size of cane - in girth and height.

The sugarcane stalk which would attain a height of 6 ft to 7 ft during normal season hardly measured 4.5 ft to 5 ft now. Its girth too shrunk and its juice content would also be much less.

Ms. Jayalakshmi further said that even achieving such a minimal growth, she had to spend a lot on pesticides.

For tapping groundwater, she had to spend Rs. 100 per hour on generator sets.

Transport charges should also be taken into account while fixing the sale price in tune with the market demand.