Sugarcane farmers worried over payment

Even as the sugarcane crushing season is about to commence in the country’s northern sugarcane producing States, farmers are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping to get timely payment for their produce from sugar mills.

Sugarcane harvesting has started in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana and farmers are preparing to sell their crop.

“My cane crop will mature in the next few days. With my past experiences, I’m a little jittery regarding timely payment for my produce,” Pawan Sonti, a sugarcane farmer from Haryana said.

He said the government should ensure all arrangements were in place before the crushing season gathers pace. “Transportation and timely payment for the produce are the most important issues that cane growers usually face and these should be taken care of,” said Mr. Sonti.

Framer unions have been raising their voice against the Central and State governments for not being serious in solving the problems faced by sugarcane farmers. They said farmers had to make huge investments in sugarcane farming but were made to wait for several months and or even years, in some cases, for payment for their produce.

“Cane farmers in Haryana are likely to face troubles this year as well. The State government has yet not decided on the payment formula with the private mills” said Gurnam Singh, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Haryana). He said any further delay in deciding the payment formula with private mills would only aggravate problems for farmers because a lot of cane will be left standing in fields.

“Farmers usually start spacing their harvesting once the mills start procuring the produce, but if government is slow on deciding, it will be farmers who will have to suffer,” said Mr. Singh.

According to government estimates, sugarcane mills across India, primarily in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, owe Rs.12,000 crore as dues to farmers for the cane sold during the 2014-15 season.

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