October 13, 2021 4:49:36 pm
The Maharashtra Cooperation and Marketing Minister Balasaheb Patil has warned sugar mills of harsh punishment including licence cancellation if sugarcane farmers are exploited.
“The floods and cyclones have affected the crops. The farmers are reeling under stress and financial crisis. Therefore, any exploitation or threat to farmers from mukadams (agents) will not be tolerated. It will be dealt with strictly. The sugar mills should take note. Or else they will face ramifications including licences cancellation,” the minister said.
The warning to sugar mills comes following complaints from sugarcane farmers about harassment by agents who have allegedly extorted money from them.
The agents have the contract to appoint labourers for cane cutting after harvest. Sugar mills bear the expenditure of labour charges, transport costs for ferrying the cropped cane from fields to sugar mills. As per norms, the agents are not supposed to ask for money from farmers.
However, there have been alleged instances where the agents bargained with farmers seeking money for cane cutting. The reason cited was the access to their field was poor and would require additional transport expenditure. In some cases, sub-standard sugarcane was being used as a pretext to take money from farmers.
The sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said: “We have received complaints from farmers. We have to check the exploitation of farmers at any cost. We have urged farmers to directly report such instances at grampanchayat offices.”
Moreover, the cooperation and marketing ministry has also decided to keep a close vigil. An agriculture officer has been recruited at every district to monitor the operations of sugar mills.
The cooperation minister also urged the farmers not to panic. “The cane crushing will continue for 150 days. So, they should not worry whether their sugarcane will fetch market and get processed. Apart from using cane for sugar production, it will be used for ethanol generation. Thus, giving farmers ample scope to sell the cane at remunerative prices to sugar mills,” he said.
In the 2021-22 Kharif season, the cultivation is on 12.32 lakh hectares and it is estimated to produce 112 lakh tonne sugar, marginally higher than last year’s (2020-21) on 11.42 lakh hectares.
Sugarcane crushing will commence on October 15. Of the total 190 sugar mills, 44 mills have received showcause notices for non-payment of dues to farmers. The sugar commissioner has warned these mills to pay the dues if they want to get their licences renewed for crushing this season.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.