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'Bitter truth' of sugarcane in Karnataka


Bengaluru, Nov 20: It is the duty of the state government to provide minimum support price, subsidies and market for the agricultural produce. Besides, Food Corporation of India (FCI), also recommends that governments should support farmers with Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Bitter truth of sugarcane in Karnataka

However, the government has failed to provide scientific prices for crops. The price fixed for per ton sugarcane is less than the investment in Karnataka. The MSP for per ton sugarcane is Rs 3500 in Maharashtra, Rs 3500 in Punjab and Rs 3,000 in Haryana.

The incumbent government is facing the challenges of outstanding payment by sugar factories, farm loan waiver and minimum support price. Siddaramaiah's government had announced Rs 2,500 per ton sugarcane. Now, farmers are demanding Rs 3,000. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said the issue will be resolved before the winter session begins in Belagavi.

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The difference in MSP for sugarcane:

The Siddaramaiah government announced a minimum price Rs 2,600 per for sugarcane southern Karnataka and Rs 2500 for farmers in northern Karnataka. Farmers in south Rs 100 more because there are 16 sugar factories in the southern part and the farmers have to bear harvesting and transportation costs. However, in North Karnataka sugar factories pay for the harvesting and transportation costs. Besides, there are 45 sugar factories in the north.

In North Karnataka, sugar factories are owned by powerful politicians such as Prakash Hukkeri, MB Patil, Murugesh Nirani, Umesh Katti and Siddi Namagowda. They control government irrespective of the political party in power. Therefore, the government is unable to deliver justice to farmers due to politicians self-interest.

The parameter for MSP:

In Maharashtra, Agricultural University survey report, agricultural expenses and commission per cent on crop will be taken into account while determining support price. However, crops on rented farmland, natural disasters and agricultural debts are not considered. Rs 2500 is fixed per quintal for rice, corn, ragi and Rs 15,000 to turmeric. Farmers' organizations have also demanded scientific prices for all crops.

Outstanding amount not yet paid:

Karnataka is the third largest producer of sugarcane in the country. Karnataka contributes 13 per cent of total annual production. In 2012-13, more than 58 factories had procured 33 million tons of sugarcane and produced 3.43 million tons of sugar. Even though the government has declared Rs 2500 MSP per ton, factories in Belgaum and Bagalkot district are paying only Rs 2000.

65 sugar factories in Karnataka:

There are 65 sugar factories in the state and 58 are functional. There are 22 factories in the cooperative sector, with only two factories under government control. 34 privately owned, of which 33 factories are owned by political leaders. Belgaum district topped the list in sugar production with 35% of total output, 13 million tonnes of sugarcane.

Profit is not in proportion to yield:

Belgaum district has 21 factories. There are four factories in Bijapur, nine in Bagalkote, four in Bidar, Bijapur, Gulbarga and Davangere have three each. Last year, Karnataka had produced 2.16 million tonnes of sugarcane, 3.54 million tonnes this year. Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have seen a decline in production this year adding up to up from 29.5 million tonnes till September.

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