Aligarh: Sugarcane harvest has soured the lives of some farmers in western Uttar Pradesh. The crop is bumper but there are no takers.
"We are facing a lot of trouble now. Most of the sugarcane which we have grown cannot be converted into the sugar as the mill is closed. We are now selling our crops as a fodder," lamented Devendra Pal Singh, a sugarcane farmer in Aligarh.
Several sugar mills in the region have been shut. Their owners have not been able to clear pending dues of farmers due to the low selling price of sugar, caused by excess production and a decline in global sugar prices. The pending dues in the state stand at more than Rs 7,000 crores and just 54 percent of the dues of farmers had been cleared by February.
Shalendrapal Singh, a farmers' leader slammed the state and central governments for doing little for the distressed farmers. "This year, the sugar mill industry only produced 10 percent of the product. The mill did not work properly for the first two to three months. Both, the state and the Centre have not done enough for the farmers. Most of them are still reeling under poverty."
In the last cabinet briefing before the announcement of Lok Sabha elections, the government on 7 March approved additional funds to the tune of Rs 3,300 crore to sugar mills in order to augment the income of the sector. It has also approved soft loans for sugar mills to up the ethanol capacities.
"This decision was taken as the government was trying to augment the income of sugar mills. Sugar mills which are divided into two categories will get Rs 2790 crores and Rs 565 crores," finance minister Arun Jaitley had said.
Till the time the help trickles down to farmers, they are selling their produce as fodder for animals at a lower price to the locals. "This year, we are getting sugarcane at a lesser price than fodder. Fodder, at present, is been sold at Rs 1200 per quintal while fodder is half of the price," said Satyanand Das, a buyer.
The government has been trying to resolve the crisis for quite some time now.
Last year in July, the Union Cabinet announced Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane at Rs 275 per quintal. In an official statement, the Centre said the price hike will ensure that farmers avail a return of more than 50 per cent over their cost. "This FRP Rs. 275 per quintal at a recovery rate of 10 per cent is higher by 77.42 per cent over production cost thereby ensuring the promise of giving the farmers a return of more than 50 per cent over their cost," read the statement.
The cost of production of sugarcane, the government said, is Rs 155 per quintal.
The statement also said that the government is pro-farmers and will ensure that farmers get their dues in time.
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Updated Date: Mar 16, 2019 11:35:35 IST