Farmers in western Uttar Pradesh, mainly key sugarcane-growing Baghpat, Shamli, Meerut, and Muzaffarnagar districts, expressed disappointment with the ₹10/quintal hike in fair and remunerative price (FRP) of the crop for next season (October-September). Not a single farmer, businessline spoke to was happy with the hike and all of them said “it is totally insignificant”.

“What is this hike, it is not even peanuts. So many increases in prices of inputs like pesticides in the past year, what will we save,” said Monu Malik, a farmer in Shamli district, who takes care of the family farming. Though he said that he would continue to grow sugarcane despite this small hike as it is the best alternative crop for them, Malik said he had expected at least ₹30-40/quintal hike as election is due next year.

Monu Malik, Shamli district, UP

Monu Malik, Shamli district, UP

He said the government is not serious about farmers’ issues and a reasonable amount is not being fixed for cane. “I have not even received the complete payment of last season and this year, only payment for 3-4 tranches (according to supply schedule slips) have been made by one mill while none has been received from another.

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Production cost

Another farmer, Jitendra Hooda of Kheri Bairagi village, also in Shamli, said, “The cost of production has increased by about ₹50/quintal in cost of production this season. Though UP has a system of State-advised prices (SAP), which is normally higher than FRP, even the State government has raised it only two times in the last seven years. Once by ₹10 and another time by ₹25 per quintal.”

It will be a loss for farmers, and in the coming days, farmers may shift to other crops if they do not receive ‘remunerative price’, Hooda said adding the sugar industry will also lose as they will not be able to get raw material.

In the past, farmers in Uttar Pradesh had reduced cane area in one year, which led to a severe shortage of cane in the State, leading to some mills paying ₹80-100/quintal more than the State government-fixed price to purchase cane.

Also read: Sugarcane in Maharashtra, Karnataka faces risks of deficient rain even as water levels recede

“I have not received payment since December 15, 2022, after selling the cane to the nearby mill,” said Ravinder Kumar, a farmer in Muzaffarnagar district. He said farmers may adjust with even this type of hike if they receive the payment in time. He also said that every government in the last 20-25 years has been claiming that it ensures prompt payment of farmers, which is completely false.

He also said that by hearing this news of hike in cane rate, now all input retailers will further increase their rates, which will be more that what government has announced.

Ram Shankar, a jaggery (gur) maker in Muzaffarnagar district, said, “The lease rent will further go up by ₹500/bigha from current ₹9,000/bigha after this hike in cane price as farmers would claim more amount of return from growing cane.”

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), on Wednesday, approved FRP for sugarcane for the 2023-24 season (October to September) at ₹315/quintal for a basic recovery rate of 10.25 per cent. Earlier, it was ₹305/quintal.

Some experts said that state advised price (SAP), fixed by the state and it is mandatory for mills located within the state to buy cane at that price, is always higher than FRP and Uttar Pradesh may announce it next season. Uttar Pradesh government, after delaying an announcement, decided in third week of to continue the same SAP of Rs 340/quintal as was in previous season whereas crushing season started from October 2022.

In 2017-18, UP had raised SAP by Rs 10/quintal and in 2021-22 it was hiked by Rs 25/quintal.