Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) chief Raju Shetti on Friday issued a stern ultimatum regarding the upcoming sugar-crushing season, demanding an additional ₹400 per tonne of sugarcane for the upcoming crushing season.
The Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) has been determined on the basis of recommendations from the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and after consultations with state governments and other stakeholders. On June 28, the Centre approved ₹315 per quintal as FRP, which is the minimum price mills have to pay to farmers for the sugarcane crushing season 2023-24, commencing from October this year. This translates to ₹3,150 per tonne.
More recovery rate in Kolhapur
The price is applicable for a recovery rate of 10.25%. The CCEA also decided to provide a premium of ₹3.07 per quintal for each 0.1% increase in recovery over and above 10.25% and a reduction in FRP by ₹3.07 per quintal for every 0.1% decrease in recovery.
The recovery rate is calculated on the basis of the sugar produced from the quantity of sugarcane crushed in a mill. However, the recovery rate of sugarcane in Kolhapur and nearby districts is above 12% on average.
"Unless factories agree to pay farmers an additional ₹400 per tonne over the government's fixed Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of ₹3,150 per tonne, the season won't commence," Shetti conveyed this warning during a press conference held in Patarkar Sangh in Pune on Friday.
Audits for sugar mills under scanner
Shetti also said, "Despite favourable global sugar prices, the government has imposed a sugar export ban. Farmers are grappling with rising costs of chemical fertilisers, making it challenging for them to maintain profitability. While the international market values sugar at ₹6,200 per tonne, farmers are receiving significantly less at ₹3,150. Notably, some factories in Maharashtra and ethanol producers have paid farmers an extra ₹500 per tonne, while others have not, leading to demands for an additional ₹400."
Another issue highlighted by Shetti is the absence of audits for sugar mills in recent years, raising doubts about the transparency of financial transactions. This, he argued, suggests a lack of accountability and raises concerns that farmers' earnings may be mishandled, with implicit government support.
Furthermore, he said that due to drought conditions in the state, there's a projected 40 to 50 percent reduction in sugarcane production this year. This comes at a time when sugar prices are on the rise. Additionally, Shetti emphasized the need to reform outdated British-era regulations governing crop insurance, as they no longer align with the current agricultural landscape.