Nearly 25,000 sugarcane farmers in the district will launch an agitation from November 2 seeking government intervention to help secure them a fair price for the crop based on the rate of sugar recovery.
The Sugarcane Cultivators Association president Kurubur Shanthakumar said that the State Advisory Price for sugarcane procurement fixed by the government for the current year is ₹2,850 per tonne. But if the rate of sugar recovery was above 10 per cent for every tonne of sugarcane crushed, the mills have to pay an additional amount of ₹285 per tonne. If the rate of recovery was 11 per cent the mills were bound to pay ₹570 per tonne.
However, the farmers suspect that a majority of the sugar mills in the State were providing false data to under-report the rate of sugar recovery so as to avoid paying the farmers additional amount due to them.
The Association members said since the last 3 years the sugar mills across the State were citing a lower rate of sugar recovery. “All these years the mills were citing a sugar recovery rate higher than 10 per cent. But ever since the SAP was introduced three years ago, the rate has been cited at below 10 per cent.’’
This is a common practice adopted by almost all the sugar mills and the Association will launch a State-wide agitation against it in due course, according to Mr. Shanthakumar.
He said the financial distress faced by the farmers was being compounded due to such practices as they tend to lose ₹280 for every tonne of sugarcane cultivated. The government accepts at face value the figures and statistics provided by the mills without auditing the figures, he alleged.
The Association also criticised the SAP pegged at ₹2,850 per tonne on the grounds that the cost of cultivation itself was ₹3,050 and hence the procurement price was lower than the cost of cultivation.
“This is as per the various agricultural research institutes and despite that the government had fixed an SAP lower than the production cost to benefit the sugar mills’’, said Atahalli Devaraj, General Secretary of the Association.
Though the issue was discussed with senior government officials in detail sometime ago there has been no remedial measure forthcoming from the authorities and hence the farmers are forced to launch an agitation, said Mr. Shanthakumar.