Raju Shetti calls for a law to make FRP payment compulsory for sugar cane growers in one installment

Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana Chairman Raju Shetti on Thursday urged the Maharashtra government to introduce legislation in the winter session of the Assembly mandating a one-time payment of Fair Remuneration Price (FRP) to producers of sugar cane.

The farmer leader, who launched a two-day agitation in western Maharashtra to highlight alleged exploitation of sugar cane growers, threatened his organization to escalate the protest if the government ignored the well- to be farmers. The SSS has urged all sugar mills to stop work for two days while it is agitated.

“Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana launched two days of protest on Thursday and Friday. Our protest is in Kolhapur and Sangli. We draw the attention of the state government to the plight of the sugarcane growers. If he remains silent, we will be forced to intensify our agitation across Maharashtra. It will become very aggressive.

The farmer leader argues that the decision to allow the FRP to be paid in two instalments helps factories withhold legitimate payments to farmers.

“The state government should pass legislation providing for the payment of FRP to farmers in a single installment. They are expected to introduce the legislation in the upcoming winter session and pass it through both the Legislative Assembly and the Council of State. Once it becomes an Ac, sweets will need to apply it. Apart from that, there should be strict provisions to punish those who break the law,” he said.

The crushing of sugar cane in Maharashtra started on October 15. Due to the intense rains, only 32 of the 202 mills started working. In August, the cabinet committee on economic affairs set the FRP for sugar cane at Rs 305 per quintal.

“Sugar factories no longer rely on sugar production. They use a significant proportion of sugar cane for the manufacture of ethanol. And ethanol generates higher yields. Therefore, the sugar mills should share their profits with the farmers. There’s no reason why they can’t pay farmers in one installment. They should also make a payment above the FRP,” Shetti said.

“Once the farmers sell their sugarcane to the sugar mills, they must receive the full amount within 15 days. What is the reason for withholding payment or making part of the payment? Through the installment payment rule, the state government gave the sugar mills the right to further exploit the farmers. They can extend the payment for a year. Moreover, how will the farmers survive without receiving money for the sugar cane sold to the mills? They must begin preparations for the next planting. And what about money for family needs? »

The FRP is a minimum price that sugar mills must obligatorily pay to farmers for the purchase of sugar cane. It is calculated based on recommendations made by the Agricultural Costs and Prices Commission after consultation with state governments, sugar federations and other stakeholders. The FRP for sugarcane for 2022-23 has been set at Rs 305 per quintal for a basic recovery rate of 10.25%.

Another demand raised by the head of the SSS was that the Center should raise the price of sugar from Rs 31 to Rs 35 per kg and the price of ethanol from Rs 5 per litre.

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Elaine R. Knight