With the cost of production going up sharply, sugarcane farmers in Andhra Pradesh have demanded the State Government to ensure a price of Rs 3,500 a tonne for 2013-14.
The Federation of Sugarcane Growers' Associations of Andhra Pradesh has appealed to Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to bring pressure on the Union Government to increase the statutory minimum price (SMP) for this season.
"The State Government should ask the factories to give a remunerative price (State advisory price) over and above the SMP," N.S.V. Sharma, Secretary of the Federation, told Business Line.
He also suggested that the reimbursement of purchase tax (which is Rs 60 a tonne) be passed on to the growers and not to the factories.
"If farmers get it, it will bring relief to them. He appealed to the Chief Minister to convene a tripartite meeting with representatives of factories, officials andgrowers to discuss the problems faced by the sugarcane farmers.
The State grows sugarcane in 1.89 lakh hectares on an average. But the acreage went down by five per cent this year. Unofficial figures, however, put this still lower. As a result, the Government has pared production estimates.
As against the average production of 147 lakh tonnes, the State is expected to produce a tad lower.
In fact, the decrease in area continued for the second consecutive year. While the area dropped by 15 per cent last year to 1.76 lakh ha, it is all set to come down to 1.65 lakh ha next year.
"Farmers planted only in 63,500 ha this year (which will come for harvest next season). With the rattoon crop (the follow-up crop) covering an area of 1.01 lakh ha, the total area could touch the 1.76 lakh-ha- mark," N.S.V. Sharma said.
With the crop turning unremunerative, farmers are shifting to other crops such as maize and oil palm, wherever possible.
"It is only those farmers who cannot afford other crops (based on water availability) are growing cane," he said.