Activists on the Maharashtra Cane Control Board (MCCB) demanded the inclusion of jaggery processors, khandsari manufacturers and jaggery powder processors in the process of making fair and remunerative price (FRP) payment to farmers. This demand was placed before the board during a meeting on Wednesday.
“As of now, while it is mandatory for sugar factories to make FRP payments to farmers, these processors are free to make payments according to their convenience. In the sugar sector, if the FRP is Rs 2,500 per tonne and factories make a partial payment of Rs 1,500, they do make the remaining payment later in the season. This is not the case with jaggery processors and khandsari makers. The farmer is left at their mercy,” said Prahlad Ingole, member, MCCB.
According to Ingole, around 10 to 15 per cent cane during the crushing season is used for making jaggery and khandsari.
In the meeting attended by Ajoy Mehta, chief secretary and chairman of the cane control board; Abha Shukla, chief secretary, cooperative marketing; Eknath Davale, agriculture secretary, farmers also sought action against 20 factories that have not made the revenue sharing formula ( RSF) payments for the 2016-17 season.
These factories owe payments to the tune of Rs 125 crore, Ingole said. The state’s sugar commissioner agreed to issue revenue receipt code (RRC) notices to these factories. In an earlier meeting, Ingole had suggested that crushing licences should not be granted to factories that have failed to make RSF payments.
Of the 181 mills from 2017-18 season, RSF of 157 was fixed and out of them 17 mills gave an amount higher than the FRP as the farmer’s share. The board meeting also approved rates of 140 sugar factories whose RSF rates were lower than the FRP.
The farmers also sought payment of transportation costs in three phases during the crushing season. The state’s FRP dues have come down to 3 per cent as of July 15 with Rs 825.75 crore still to be made in cane payments to farmers.
Of the total payable FRP of Rs 23,173 crore, Rs 22,367.53 crore has been paid in cane payments to farmers. As many as 75 factories still owe dues, shows data released by the Maharashtra Sugar Commissionerate.
Close to 120 mills have made 100 per cent FRP payments, 56 mills have paid FRP in the 80 to 99 per cent range, 14 mills have paid 60 to 79 per cent and five have made less than 59 per cent payment. This season, 76 RRC notices were issued to defaulters.