Before the Punjab assembly elections, the issue of payment of sugarcane farmers is gaining momentum politically. Sugarcane farmers blocked the highway and railway track in Jalandhar for the payment of sugarcane. In such a situation, Congress state president Navjot Singh Sidhu has come out against the government of Captain Amarinder Singh in support of sugarcane farmers. He has put his own government in the dock by comparing sugarcane farmers of Punjab with BJP ruled states. Sidhu tweeted that the issue of sugarcane farmers needs to be resolved amicably immediately. He said, “Strangely, despite the high cost of cultivation in Punjab, the assured value of the state is much lower than that of Haryana/UP/Uttarakhand. SAP should be better in Punjab as a pioneer of agriculture.
• 32 farmers’ organizations on Friday blocked the national highway and railway tracks in the Jalandhar-Phagwara area. Bharatiya Kisan Union says that Captain Sarkar did not increase a single penny for sugarcane crop in the last four years. We will continue the agitation till the state government fulfills our demands.
• The meeting held in Chandigarh on Sunday between sugarcane farmers and the Punjab government was inconclusive. In such a situation, the farmers announced to continue the agitation. In the meeting that lasted about 90 minutes between the two sides regarding the State Assured Price (SAP), the government stood firm on the cost price of sugarcane fixed by its experts, while the farmers’ organizations remained on the cost price fixed by them.
• In the meeting held between the farmer and the government, the officials told the production cost of sugarcane to be Rs 350, then the farmers kept the account of Rs 388 spent in growing sugarcane in front of them. The farmers also argued that the production cost of sugarcane in Haryana has been fixed at Rs 358 and the same price should be given to us by the Punjab government. The Captain government refused to accept the demand of the farmers.
The price of almost every crop increases every year. But the price of sugarcane, which is fixed by the state government under its State Agreed Price (SAP) policy, has not been increased since 2017-18. This is despite the fact that the cost of growing sugarcane has increased manifold over the years. Also, neighboring states such as Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh (UP) have fixed higher prices than Punjab. The farmers of Punjab are now threatening to launch a protest if they do not increase the SAP this year before the start of crushing.
Indicator in Punjab… What is the SAP of sugarcane in neighboring states?
• Haryana has Rs 345 and Rs 340 per quintal for early and late varieties respectively.
• It is Rs 327 and Rs 317 for early and late varieties in Uttarakhand
• UP offers Rs 325 and Rs 315 for early and late varieties respectively.
• Punjab has the lowest rate among these four states that come under one agricultural sector. Haryana used to pay its farmers Rs 310 per quintal earlier in the year 2014-15, which is the current SAP in Punjab, while there is not much difference in the cost of sugarcane in both the states.
The leaders of Doaba Kisan Sangharsh Committee say that the price of sugarcane in Haryana is Rs 350 per quintal. Whereas in Punjab, for the last five years, the price is only Rs 310 per quintal. In view of the agitation, the Captain Amarinder Singh government has announced an increase of 15 per quintal, but angry farmers are calling it insufficient.
What is the sugarcane price in Punjab and when was it last raised?… The price of sugarcane for early, medium and late varieties is Rs 310, Rs 300 and Rs 295 per quintal respectively. These three varieties are harvested in November-December, January and February-March respectively. This price was last raised in 2017-18 and now it has been four years that the price of sugarcane in the state remains the same. The area of the cane is also almost constant. In 2017-18 it was 96,000 hectares and now it is 95,000 hectares with a decrease of 1000 hectares.
• Fair remunerative price [एफआरपी], which has been fixed under the Sugarcane Control Order, 1966, is the minimum price that sugar mills have to pay to the farmers. But the major sugarcane producing states fix their own SAP which is generally higher than the FRP.
What is the input cost of sugarcane?
Farmers said that the input cost per acre was around Rs 30,000 per hectare in 2017-18, which has now gone up to Rs 40,000 per 42,000 per hectare due to skyrocketing cost of seeds, fertilisers, labor and transportation charges, farmers said. Because of high diesel prices.
Also read: National Monetization Pipeline… National Monetization Plan
Price should be Rs 400 quintal across the country: Singh
Pushpendra Singh, national president of Kisan Shakti Sangh, says that the production cost of sugarcane is currently coming to an average of Rs 350 per quintal in the country. In this context, all farmers should get at least Rs 400 per quintal. No matter who the government is. We support the movement of sugarcane farmers in Punjab.
There are 16 mills in Punjab out of which nine are cooperative mills and seven are private mills.
• The private sector sugar mills buy 70 percent of the total sugarcane of Punjab. Private mills have a monopoly in Punjab. The government is not in a position to pressurize them. Even two years ago, many private sugar mill operators had refused to run the mills, stating that the price of sugarcane was high. Then the government had to intervene. The mill owners were adamant on giving the minimum support price. Which was Rs 275 per quintal at that time. SAP will be given later. For this he had sought help from the government. Seeing the matter getting stuck, it was decided that Rs 35 would be paid by the state and the mill owner to the farmers later, out of which Rs 25 and Rs 10 would be paid by the state and the mills. Experts say that the price of sugar has not increased much in the last few years, due to which the mill owners refused to give SAP.
There has been no increase in the price of sugarcane in Punjab for four years. There is a demand of sugarcane growing farmers that the price should be increased. On this demand, he is making a strategy to put pressure on the government. The farmers of Punjab, who are opposing the three agricultural laws, are also seen uniting on the issue of increasing the price of sugarcane. The anger among the farmers is that the prices have not been increased for four years. They feel that this year their demand will be accepted as the government may bow before the farmers in view of the elections. Here the problem in front of the government is that if the price of sugarcane is increased, then the sugar mills refuse to crush the sugarcane, saying that there are economic problems. There is pressure on the government of sugar mill operators.
Government of India… Sugar mills procured sugarcane worth Rs 91,000 crore in 2020-21
The Narendra Modi government at the Center has taken an important step towards ensuring timely payment of dues of sugarcane farmers. In the last three sugar seasons, sugar mills have earned a revenue of Rs 22,000 crore from the sale of ethanol to distilleries and oil marketing companies (OMCs). In the current sugar season 2020-21 also, the OMCs are getting revenue of about Rs 15,000 crore from the sale of ethanol by sugar mills. This has helped the sugar mills to make timely payment of dues to the sugarcane farmers.
In the year 2019-20, out of about Rs 75,845 crore dues, Rs 75,703 crore has been paid. The dues of only Rs 142 crore are pending in the last session. In the current sugar season 2020-21, sugar mills have procured sugarcane worth about Rs 90,872 crore which is a record till date. Out of this, about Rs 81,963 crore has been paid to the farmers and till August 16, sugarcane arrears of only Rs 8,909 crore are pending.
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