Farmers associations in Maharashtra, that have been agitating for higher sugarcane prices have threatened to stop trucks leaving sugar mills, with processed sugar and other by-products.

Due to the substantial increase in the input cost of sugarcane, farmers are seeking Rs 3,000 a tonne from co-operative sugar mills. The price offered by a number of mills is in the range of Rs 2,300.

Farmers association are being led by three units – Member of Parliament Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana, Maharashtra Shetkari Sanghtana of Raghunathdada Patil and Shetkari Sanghtana of Sharad Joshi. Raghunathdada Patil told Business Line that the three associations have decided to block the movements of trucks, so that there is a shortage in the market.

This, he said, will force the sugar mills and the State Government to come to the negotiating table. Patil said that blocking of trucks is a part of a new strategy and it would be launched after November 29. Earlier, the associations were asking farmers not to sell sugarcane to the mills, “Now farmers can sell sugarcane, but we will ensure that sugar does not leave the mills,” said Patil.

Under pressure from farmers, some mills have decided to offer more than Rs 2,300 for the sugarcane. But the associations are adamant and are demanding Rs 3,000 . “In order to further unify the farmers for this agitation, the urns carrying ashes of the two farmers, who were killed in the agitation, would be taken across the State. It will further galvanise the farmers against the mills,” Patil said.

He said that the associations were also in touch with similar farmers association across the State and groups in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Patil added that a consensus would be taken on carrying out a protest march on December 13, at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi.

A senior management member of a co-operative sugar mill said, on the condition of anonymity, that buying sugarcane at Rs 3,000 a tonne was not viable. He said farmers were not adding value to the sugarcane and the sugar recovery from the cane was stagnant at 11.5 per cent.

rahul.wadke@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 22, 2012)
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