Almost two months have passed since the new sugar season commenced, but the Uttar Pradesh is yet to announce State-Advised Price (SAP) for sugarcane, making it difficult for farmers to get cane payment from sugar mills.
Although the State government has not clarified the reason for delay in announcing the SAP, some independent watchers said the government could be waiting for the nation-wide agitation to be over. The government’s worry could be that farmers may be expecting a higher increase in the SAP as UP hasn’t revised the SAP (₹ 315 per quintal) for three seasons in row, they said.
On the other hand, the Centre announced the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane for the season 2020-21 in August this year. It increased the FRP by ₹10 to ₹285 per quintal for a basic recovery of 10 per cent.
Mills have been complaining that sugar recovery has been relatively poor mainly due to climatic conditions and has been urging the government not to increase the SAP further. In fact, mills have been asking the government to give the industry a subsidy so that it can meet its payment commitment towards cane purchase.
Meanwhile, cane payment dues are already piling up. Till December 18, a total of 120 sugar mills procured 2,462 lakh quintal sugarcane from farmers, crushed 245 lakh tonnes, and produced nearly 24 lakh tonnes of sugar.
Though the government directed mills to pay farmers at the previous year’s SAP, farmers complained that they are yet to receive payment. Shubam Malik, a farmer who supplied 100 tonnes of sugarcane to three mills in and around Shamli, said he has not received payment, which is more than ₹3 lakh. He also complained that the mills owe another ₹2.5 lakh towards cane dues for the previous season.
Sources in the industry admitted that only 20 per centof the dues for the current season has been paid to farmers so far. A back of the envelope calculation showed that the total payment to be received by the 65 lakh sugarcane farmers in the State could be around ₹8,000 crore till date. Another ₹3,674 crore is pending arrears from the previous season.
Addressing the Indian Sugar Mills Association’s annual general meeting last week, Food and Consumes Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal said the Centre owed around ₹5,360 crore to the mills which will be distributed at the earliest. He said the funds will be utilised towards paying the farmers first and only the rest will be paid to the mills.
Increase in SAP
Jitender Hudda, a farmer leader from western UP, said the farmers are expecting an increase in the SAP as it has not been increased for three seasons. The Yogi Adityanath government revised the SAP only once after it came to power in 2017.