Farmers in UP Disappointed With Meagre Hike in Sugarcane Prices

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The spotlight remains on policymakers to implement measures that genuinely support farmers’ livelihoods and ensure their prosperity.

Mohammad Alamullah | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — Farmers in Uttar Pradesh are dismayed at the state government’s recent announcement of a mere Rs 20 per quintal increase in sugarcane prices for the 2023-24 crushing season.

Farmer Bunty Tomar, echoing the sentiments of many, criticised the modest increment, stating, “It’s an election year, and there was hope among us that the government would raise the price of sugarcane by more than Rs 50. However, once again, we find ourselves disappointed. The mere increase of Rs 20 seems minuscule considering the overall cost.”

The state government’s decision, announced on February 18, marks the third time in recent years that sugarcane prices have seen an adjustment under the Yogi Adityanath government. However, farmers like Bunty Tomar argue that the cumulative increase of Rs 55 over seven years fails to keep pace with rising expenses. “With diesel prices surging, wages increasing, and the overall cost of sugarcane cultivation rising annually, the current price fails to meet our needs. We’ll only see a profit when the price surpasses Rs 400,” Tomar said.

In response to the state government’s move, the Centre approved an eight percent increase in the sugarcane procurement price, raising it from Rs 315 to Rs 340 per quintal. However, farmers in states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, and Uttarakhand may not reap substantial benefits due to the existence of State Support Price (SAP) provisions. This disparity in support prices across states further exacerbates farmers’ frustrations.

Chaudhary Rakesh Tikait, the national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, expressed disappointment over the meager Rs 20 increase, emphasising the financial strain farmers face amidst escalating expenses.

V.M. Singh, national convenor of Kisan Morcha, has criticised the government’s move as merely appeasing sugar mills during an election year, calling for a more substantial increase to ensure farmers’ profitability.

The challenges faced by sugarcane farmers extend beyond pricing issues. Arvind Sharma, a farmer from Bijnor district, highlighted the financial challenges of sugarcane cultivation, including high costs for peeling, transportation, and other inputs. Furthermore, the recent rate surge in fertiliser, pesticide, diesel, and wages further erodes farmers’ profitability, leading to a decline in younger generations’ interest in farming.

Despite some improvements in payment procedures, farmers like Krishna Kumar Tyagi and Piyush Kumar still endure delays in receiving payments from sugar mills. Narendra Rana, a farmer leader from western Uttar Pradesh, acknowledged improvements but stressed the need for further reforms to address farmers’ concerns.

In response to queries in the assembly, Uttar Pradesh Sugar Industry and Sugarcane Development Department Minister Lakshmi Narayan Choudhary disclosed that approximately 80% of payments to farmers had been made during the 2023-24 crushing season, with Rs 3,400 crore still pending. The minister reaffirmed the commitment to ensure full payment to farmers and underscored the government’s efforts to support the sugarcane industry.

As sugarcane farmers grapple with mounting challenges, including modest price increases, delayed payments, and rising costs, the spotlight remains on policymakers to implement measures that genuinely support farmers’ livelihoods and ensure their prosperity.

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