Under pressure from farmers demanding a hike in sugarcane price, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday announced a ₹10/quintal hike in State-advised price (SAP) of sugarcane to ₹372 for the 2022-23 season (October-September).

Sugar mills have to pay growers the hiked amount for the cane already purchased and crushed.

“I urge the farmers that the prices have been hiked and now they should bring their sugarcane to the mills so they can run smoothly. Closure of sugar mills is neither in the interest of the farmers nor of the mills,” Khattar said in a statement.

Demanding sugarcane SAP to be fixed at ₹450 a quintal, farmers had been protesting for the past few days as the Haryana government did not announce the sugarcane rate at the beginning of the current season, which is the normal practice. In 2021-22, Haryana had fixed SAP at ₹362 — the highest in the country.

Political issue

As sugarcane price has become a political issue in Punjab and Haryana, both States have been competing to take the credit for fixing it at the highest level in the country, rendering mills to become unviable in view of lower rates in other States.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann in October announced sugarcane SAP at ₹380 per quintal for the current season, against ₹360 in 2021-22. In August 2021, the then Congress government announced a ₹50/quintal hike in SAP to ₹360 ahead of the Assembly polls.

As farmers stopped the supply of sugarcane by locking the main gates of 14 sugar mills in Haryana, the crushing was interrupted.

Panel submits report

A committee was earlier constituted under State Agriculture Minister J P Dalal, which submitted its report on January 24. The committee held several meetings with farmers, cooperative department, private mills and experts.

According to an official statement, the Chief Minister said though the current sugar price has not increased as expected, Haryana is giving high prices compared to other States. Uttar Pradesh has not announced any SAP this season and mills are paying farmers at last year’s rate of ₹340/quintal for common varieties.

While the fair and remunerative price (FRP) fixed every year by the Centre is applicable all over the country, States announce their own SAP which is also mandatory for mills in the concerned state to pay for buying sugarcane. The Supreme Court has upheld the power of States to fix SAP for sugarcane. The current season’s FRP is ₹305 for a basic recovery rate of 10.25 per cent.

State officials said sugar mills in Haryana are facing a loss of ₹5,293 crore. The percentage of sugar recovery in the co-operative mills is 9.75 per cent, while the percentage of private mills is 10.24 per cent.

The Chief Minister blamed the Opposition saying they were doing politics on cane price issue, which is not fair.