With a meeting of all party representatives and farmers’ union leaders failing to resolve the issue of minimum price to be paid to sugarcane crop,the sugar industry in Maharashtra,the largest producer of sugar in the country,is headed for a showdown. Raju Shetty,leader of the strongest farmers’ union in the state,has threatened to stall crushing if factories pay anything less than Rs 3000 per quintal for sugarcane.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday conducted a meeting of stakeholders in Mumbai which was attended by state Co-operatives Minister Harshvardhan Paril,senior BJP leader and MP Gopinath Munde,Vinod Tawde,Shiv Sena leader Diwakar Rawte,president of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna chief Raju Shetty,farmers leaders Raghunath Patil and sugar commissioner Vijay Singhal.
According to those who attended the meeting farmers’ union leaders demanded that the state government should take the initiative and fix a minimum price for sugarcane at Rs 3000 per ton.
“If the producer gets less than this then he won’t be able to make up for his investment let alone earning some profit,” Shetty argued.
The government representatives and sugar factory owners however held that the fate of the price of sugar hangs on basic factors such as the global and national surplus as well as the union governments export policies.
They argued that there was a surplus of 90 lakh metric ton sugar in India,out of which 24 lakh metric ton was in Maharahstra alone. Getting rid of this surplus was key to changing the mindset of the traders in the country and improving the prices.
This years forecast shows that an additional surplus will be created. During the last crushing season (2012-13) the price of the sugar in the open market was Rs 3,300 to 3,400 per quintal. This year it has come down to Rs 2,600 to 2,650 per quintal. The price paid to the sugarcane by factories is ultimately decided by the price prevailing in the market. And the situation was such that it would be impossible for factories to pay a sugarcane price which was paid last year. Last year most of factories had paid Rs 3000 per ton for sugarcane following agitations by the producers unions,government officials have argued.
Chavan said that the state government and the co-operative department was making every possible effort to make sure that the sugarcane growers get a competitive price.
“We are going to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh so as to resolve some of the issues which will result in getting good price for sugar,” said Chavan.
According to estimates,in the upcoming crushing season in 2013-14,79 lakh metric ton of sugar will be produced in the state by crushing 690 lakh metric ton of sugarcane. A total of 9.37 hectare of land in the state will yield sugarcane this year,said Singhal.