To prevent protests by sugarcane farmers, the board will determine a fair price that will be binding on sugar mills
In an attempt to prevent a repeat of last year’s violent protests by sugarcane farmers in western Maharashtra, the state government has decided to form a Sugarcane Price Board (SPB) to determine fair returns for sugarcane farmers in the state.
According to State Cooperatives Minister Harshvardhan Patil, the board will be formed within a few days, following Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s nod.
Sugarcane harvests are expected to fall by 20 per cent due to delayed rains, making fair pricing more crucial
“The decision of forming the board will be taken in the next couple of days. Once the 15-member board will be established, it will be mandatory for sugar mills to accept the board’s decisions. The board will also decide the FRP (Fair and Remunerative Price) given by the sugar mills to sugar farmers across the state,” said Patil. He added that unlike in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, where the minister of the concerned department is made chairperson of the board, the Maharashtra board will be chaired by the state chief secretary.
Committee for harvesters
Apart from the establishment of the SPB, Patil mentioned that an older committee —formed for fair wages for sugarcane harvesters — will also be reconstituted within the week. “The committee was constituted under the chairmanship of NCP chief Sharad Pawar and BJP leader Gopinath Munde. However, the committee now needs to be reconstituted,” he added. There are around 7 lakh sugarcane harvesters across the state who stand to gain from the reconstitution of the committee.
The need to protect farmers and harvesters is especially prime this year, because sugarcane harvest is expected to fall by 20 per cent, following the delayed monsoon. The delay in rains has already pushed the crushing season late this year. “Considering the situation, the state government is considering starting this year’s sugarcane crushing from October 1,” said Patil.
Support for the industry
Patil also spoke of the need for financial support for the industry, adding that a delegation led by the Chief Minister will meet the Prime Minster to seek the central government’s support. “The main demand will be for an interest-free soft loan for the sugarcane industry,” said Patil.
Number of sugarcane harvesters in Maharashtra
Fall in sugar production due to delayed monsoon