Agri Business

Mechanisation, lower price may hit sugarcane crushing in Maharashtra

Alka Kshirsagar Pune | Updated on March 09, 2018

sugarcane

The Government's move to deploy mechanical harvesters instead of manual labour, and offer a price that is lower than last year are two issues which are threatening to hit the onset of 2011 sugarcane crushing season due to begin in Maharashtra by the middle of October.

The Raghunath Patil-led Shetkari Sanghatana (SS) has proclaimed that sugar factories will not be allowed to operate till the issues are settled, and has announced a series of farmer rallies and conferences across Maharashtra over the next two months to increase awareness.

“The Government want to use harvesters for which it has agreed to pay Rs 300 a tonne, while the labourer is paid Rs 137 a tonne,” Mr Patil said, adding that the Shetkari Sanghatana was demanding that the latter too be paid Rs 300 a tonne.

Pay parity

According to Mr Patil, the sugarcane cutting workforce in the State is 10-lakh strong, and last year, many were forced to go to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, where the wages were between Rs 170 and Rs 230 a tonne.

“This year, there is 810 lakh tonnes sugarcane. We have taken up the issue of labourers' wages and they are with us. No sugarcane will be cut till there is parity,” he said.

The SS is holding a rally for labourers in Osmanabad on September 12 and for farmers, a week later in addition to conferences in Satara and Kolhapur subsequently.

The second issue is that of the minimum price which is lesser than last year's price of Rs 1,700-2,000 a tonne, Mr Raju Shetty, MP from Kolhapur and leader of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, said.

“How can farmers be paid a price that is lesser than that last year, especially when costs of electricity, water as well as fertilisers and insecticides are rising?” he asked.

Both Swabhimani and the Shetkari Sanghatana are demanding that the rate be fixed between Rs 2,200 and Rs 2,500 a tonne.

To press its demands, Swabhimani is holding an agitation in Pune on September 19.

Published on September 06, 2011

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