Incidents of violence were reported from various parts of western Maharashtra on Saturday as sugarcane farmers took to the streets to protest against part payment of Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) by mills in Sangli and Kolhapur. In some places, farmers locked the offices of sugar mills to demand full payment of FRP.
Barely two months after cane crushing season started this year, mills already have cane arrears worth Rs 4,5 75.53 crore pending. As many as 75 mills, including almost all the mills in the sugar bowl of Sangli and Kolhapur, have not paid anything to their growers.
On Friday, while most mills in the region finally started paying their farmers for November, instead of the full FRP, they paid them at the rate of Rs 2,300 per tonne. The average FRP of Sangli and Kolhapur, which has higher sugar recovery rate than other parts of Maharashtra, is around Rs 2,850, excluding the harvesting and transportation charges.
The chairman of a cooperative mill from Kolhapur said that as compared to the production cost of Rs 3,400 per quintal, the minimum selling price of sugar currently is Rs 2,900 per quintal. “In such a situation, it is impossible for us to pay the FRP at one go.”
To tide over the crisis, millers from Kolhapur had earlier met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and sought financial help. NCP chief Sharad Pawar had also asked for a bailout package of Rs 500 crore. There have been demands from the industry to raise the minimum selling price of sugar to Rs 3,400 per quintal to help millers pay the FRP.
In various parts of the district, farmers took to the streets to protest against part payment of FRP. In Sangli, farmers allegedly torched the offices of Krishna Cooperative Sugar Mill, the Jayawant Sugar Mill and Kranti Cooperative Sugar Mill.