Expect a positive decision, Minister assures sugarcane farmers

Hope for farmers: Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam addressing sugarcane farmers and mill owners at a meeting in Salem on Saturday.

Hope for farmers: Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam addressing sugarcane farmers and mill owners at a meeting in Salem on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: – Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

Special Correspondent

SALEM: The marathon five-hour tripartite meeting of farmers’ forums, sugar mill owners and government officials to decide on the State Advisory Price (SAP) of cane for the sugar year of 2008-2009 in Tamil Nadu ended on an optimistic note for farmers here on Saturday with Agriculture minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam giving an assurance of a ‘good and welcome decision’ for farmers before Deepavali.

The state-level meeting, held for the first time outside Chennai, discussed in detail about the various issues that are confronting the sugar industry and the cane growers.

The role of the State in tackling these issues was also discussed. Representatives from leading farmers’ bodies, private sugar mills and senior government officials presented their views on the subject.

Majority of farmers, as the minister himself pointed out during his speech at the end of deliberations, urged the state to fix the State Advisory Price (SAP) for cane with the basic recovery ratio of 9 per cent at about Rs. 2000 a tonne.

The state had fixed the SAP at Rs. 1034 a tonne for the year 2007-2008.

“While fixing it, the recovery ratio should not be based on sugar alone. Its by-products should also be taken into consideration,” said K. Balakrishnan of Tamil Nadu Vivasayeegal Sangam. This view received immediate endorsement from almost all farmers’ forums.

The forums had also drawn the state’s attention to the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) to the Government of India to fix Rs. 1550 per tonne as Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) and incentive thereafter at Rs. 140 for cane farmers.

Their other demands included the harvest and transport charges and pending cane arrears from a few private mills.

They pointed that whenever licenses were issued to the new mills, farmers should be consulted on the issue of drafting the field boundaries for lands from where sugar cane should be procured.

Expressing concern over the acute scarcity of farm labourers, they urged the state to expedite the mechanisation process.

Purchase Tax should be given to farmers while the co-generation power should be sold at higher prices.

Thanking the participants for their overwhelming response to the meeting,

Mr. Arumugam said that all demands, barring the one on SAP, which were put forward by both farmers and mill owners, would be discussed with officials concerned and sorted out.

“But with regard to the SAP, I will discuss this with Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and I am sure that a decision that will not disappoint you will be announced, possibly before Deepavali,” he said.

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