Dream crops or farmers' worst nightmare? -Vivek Waghmode, Sandeep Rai and Satyajit Joshi
-The Times of India
Mills in Maharashtra and UP, the two states that account for most of India's sugar supply, owe sugarcane farmers Rs 12,700 cr. Yet, farmers do not want to move away from the crop
KOLHAPUR/ MEERUT: Unrest simmers in districts of western Maharashtra and parts of Uttar Pradesh, considered the sugar bowls of the country, over unpaid cane crushing dues. Despite the problems which beset farmers, however, they have continued to cultivate a crop that means more to them than just livelihood.
Anger among farmers in Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur districts of Maharashtra over unpaid dues spilled out into the streets on January 12. A group of unidentified persons gathered outside Kranti Sugar Factory in Sangli district and Krishna Sugar Factory near Karad in Satara district and set the office gates on fire. Four other factories were ransacked and forcibly shut down. The matter of unpaid dues remains a simmering issue in the runup to Lok Sabha and state assembly issues this year.
Farmers in the western part of Maharashtra have cultivated sugarcane for decades thanks to the fertile land, ample water and most importantly assured money. The government announces a fair and remunerative price (FRP) every year that sugar mills must pay farmers after purchasing cane from them. The mills have, however, struggled to pay farmers for the past many years. This crushing season alone, since October 2018, mills owed Rs 4,576 crore to farmers till December 9.
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