The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana president Raju Shetti will go on a padyatra from October 17 to November 7 in Western Maharashtra to highlight the exploitation of sugarcane farmers by sugar mills.
Shetti will cover 522 km during the padayatra between October 17 to November 7.
The SSS president told Indian Express, ” Our demand is sugar cane farmers should get Rs 400 per tonne on sugar harvested last season. The sugar mills reaped huge profits last season. Apart from sugar production ethanol production has worked to their advantage.” However, Shetti revealed, ” The sugar mills in the pretext of low recovery of sugar refuse to share profit with sugar cane farmers.”
The Fair price renumeration for sugar was Rs 3050 per tonne in 2022-23. Most of them paid FRP. The additional Rs 400 per tonne payment to sugar cane farmers in the second instalment was skipped by sugar mills.
While conceding sugar mills in Pune were prompt in making the additional payment, sugar mills in Sangli, Kolhapur in Western Maharashtra did not make payment above FRP.
According to Shetti, during the padayatra, SSS workers held protests outside every sugar mill which did not make a payment of Rs 400 per tonne above FRP to sugarcane farmers.
During the 20 days, Padyatra the SSS president will walk on foot to highlight the problems of sugar cane workers.
The sugar cane crushing for the 2023-24 season will begin on November 1. However, some sugar mills are mounting pressure on the government to allow early crushing from October 15.
The centre has fixed FRP for 2023-24 at Rs 3150 per tonne on sugar cane for a recovery of 10.25 per cent.
Shetti said, ” All the sugar mills who failed to give Rs 400 per tonne additional amount above FRP to cane cultivators will be our target.” These sugar mills make huge profits. Why are they not willing to share a small part of the profit with sugar cane farmers who are always subjected to exploitation.
The sugar cane farmers are already reeling under financial crisis due to uninterrupted rains and higher investment expenditure on planting sugar cane. The steep hike in fertilizers and untimely rain and hailstorm has adversely hit the cane cultivators, he explained.