KARNATAKA

Farmers banking on coming elections to extract more price for sugarcane

Staff Correspondent

MYSORE: The ensuing polls to zilla and taluk panchayats have given sugarcane farmers in Mysore and Chamarajanagar districts an opportunity to bring pressure on the Government for their long-pending demand for fixing a minimum support price of Rs. 1,250 for a tonne of sugarcane.

Clearly upset with Sugar Minister Amaregowda Bayyapura's attitude towards the plight of the sugarcane farmers and the State Government's failure to address their long-pending demand, the Sugarcane Growers' Association has convened a meeting of farmers and elected representatives in Mysore on Sunday.

Speaking to presspersons here on Friday, association president Kurubur Shantakumar regretted that the Government has so far refused to pay heed to the series of representations made and protests staged to press for their demand. "Now, time has come for the 40,000 sugarcane farmers in the two districts to play a crucial role in the ensuing panchayat elections," he said.

The Sunday meeting, which will begin at 11 a.m. at Jaladarshini in Mysore, will discuss the farmers' future course of action.

The association had invited all the MLAs, who had been supported by sugarcane farmers during the last Assembly elections.

Coming down heavily on Mr. Bayyapura for not urging the Union Government to increase the minimum support price during a recent meeting, Mr. Shantakumar said the Minister, who was part of the State delegation that met Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, had "completely ignored sugarcane, which is grown on 6.5 lakh hectares of land in Karnataka".

The farmers, who are currently being paid only Rs. 850 to Rs. 900 per tonne of sugarcane, will not be able to meet the costs of cultivation, he said. Mr. Shantakumar also made out a case for immediately taking up road repair works in Mysore and Chamarajanagar districts.

He appealed to Mysore-Chamarajanagar Milk Producers' Union to increase the purchase price of milk. He also urged the Government to supplement the food provided to schoolchildren under the midday meal scheme with milk and eggs.