Mills would start delaying the payment
Coimbatore, Aug. 24
Cane farmers who have been getting timely payment from the mill sector in the last year and a half have started to voice doubts about getting their dues settled on time.
"The rains have been good and the crop satisfactory. But we fear that the mills would start delaying the payment because of the sharp decline in the domestic price levels and the ban imposed on export of sugar. If the mills run into a cash crunch, the first casualty will be the farmer," says Mr A. Mohan, President of the Erode Farmers' Association.
Stating that the farm sector was upbeat about taking to cultivation of sugarcane because of favourable monsoon and assured return, he said: "the present developments are not in the interest of the farmer. If the mills run into trouble, the cane supplier would be in dire straits. It would be better to stay away from cultivating cane in the ensuing cane season," he said.
Mr Mohan further said the cost of harvesting had more than doubled in the last one year from about Rs 150/tonne to over Rs 370/tonne this year.
Besides this rise in the cane-harvesting rate, the yield levels also slipped because of `wooly aphids' infestation. Yield levels in the infested areas declined by half to 35 tonnes/acre against the normal level of 60 to 70 tonnes/acre, he said.
"After settling the labourer and incurring the transport cost for taking the produce to the sugar mill, we have just enough cash which is equal to the production cost (farm inputs)," said Mr A.M. Raja, a sugarcane farmer in Bhavani.
The farmers feel that the Government's ban on export of sugar is "unreasonable and unjust" and not in the interest of the industry.