August 30, 2020

Paltry Increase in Sugarcane Prices

THE Narendra Modi led BJP government has announced the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane for the season 2020-21 as Rs 2850 per tonne for a recovery rate of 10 per cent. The government which did not make any increase in the sugarcane price last year has now declared only Rs 100 increase per tonne. This increase is pittance when compared to the huge increase in input costs and overall costs of cultivation. It also makes a mockery of the plight of farmers who, due to the unplanned lockdown, have suffered huge losses in income and are in acute distress. It is a betrayal of over five crore sugarcane farmers across the country. All India Sugarcane Farmers’ Federation (AISFF), in a statement issued on August 22, has strongly condemned the insensitive announcement of the BJP central government. 

Declaring the price for a recovery rate of 10 per cent will adversely affect the interests of the sugarcane farmers. In 1980-81, the price was announced for a recovery rate of 8.5 per cent. In 2006-07, it was for a recovery rate of 9 per cent and in 2009-10 it was for 9.5 per cent and in 2018-19 it was fixed for a recovery rate of 10 per cent. Recovery rates were fixed to suit the interests of the sugar mill owners and the real interests of farmers were undermined.  

The BJP government which refuses to accept genuine demands of farmers has accepted the demand of the sugar mill owners and announced Rs 32 per Kg or Rs 32000 per tonne as the factory gate price of sugar. Molasses is being sold at over Rs 12,000 per tonne and companies are profiteering as demand for sanitiser has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the sugar mill owners are earning considerable profit by way of increase in the prices of by-products. On the other hand, there has been steady increase in the cost of sugarcane farming and none of the revenue generated is shared with the farmers. During the Covid-19 lockdown, sugarcane farmers are becoming debt ridden and are undergoing great suffering.  

The BJP government has miserably failed to implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee, to fix a fair price at least 50 per cent over and above the cost of production. The paltry increase of Rs 100 per tonne (merely 10 paisa per kilogram) of sugarcane is clearly to favour the corporates and sugar mill owners. Already sugarcane arrears with mills are over Rs 16,000 crores. The central and different state governments have also failed to ensure that the sugar mills clear these arrears due to farmers for sugarcane sold last year.

In order to safeguard the interests and livelihood of the sugarcane farmers, the All India Sugarcane Farmers Federation strongly demands that the BJP government at the centre announce an increased price of Rs 5000 per tonne for a recovery rate of 9.5 per cent so as to mitigate the acute suffering of the sugarcane farmers. AISFF calls upon farmers to rise up in protest against the injustice meted out by the BJP government at the centre and different state governments on September 5, 2020.