December 11, 2016
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Sugarcane Farmers Organise Protest

N K Shukla

A MAHA DHARNA was organised before parliament on November 25 by the sugarcane farmers from various states. The Maha dharna was held under the banner of National Co-ordination Committee of Sugarcane Farmers. The protesting farmers came from Tamil Nadu which was the biggest contingent, and from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. 

The Co- Ordination Committee convenor and co-convenor,  N K Shukla and Vijoo Krishnan explained the pathetic conditions of sugarcane farmers, which has forced them to organise march to parliament and present their demands before the central government. Still huge arrears are lying with sugar mills and the government is only delivering promises. 1966 Sugar Control Act has been diluted due to which the mill owners are not obliged to pay within a fortnight of receiving sugarcanes at mill gates. Mills are not sharing their profit from the sale of bi-products like bagasse, pressmud and ethanol. A large number of sugar mills, with huge assets are kept closed for years and then sold to corporates at throw away prices. FDI is also being invited in agri-sector. Raw sugar is allowed to be imported which affects our native sugar industries and farming. Price of sugarcane is deliberately kept low and farmers are forced to go for distress sale as sugarcane cannot be stored like paddy or wheat. Dr Swaminathan commission formula (C2+50 percent) is not implemented.

 This is the background in which the Maha dharna was held. When there was no call from the minister for meeting the delegation of sugarcane farmers, it was decided to send the memorandum to the central agriculture minister and to the commissioner of sugarcane development. 

The committee presented these demands:-

1. Rs 400/- pq / 4000(per ton) minimum price of sugarcane. (FRP)

2.  All the pending arrears be cleared before the beginning of this season.

3. Every year the dues price of sugarcane be paid before the end of season according to 1966 Sugar Control Act.

4. Sugarcane farmers be paid share of sale of bagasse, pressmud and ethanol in proportion to the weightage of sugarcane supplied to the mills.

5. No to privatisation and no to selling of mills. Open closed mills immediately. Protect co-operative and public sector mills.

6. No FDI in Agriculture

7.    All the consumers be provided sugar at cheap rate from the PDS shops.

It was also resolved to organise militant protest and picketing in all the cane growing states of India throughout the month of December 2016, before the mill gates or local authorities. Hannan Mollah, general secretary, AIKS, K Vardharajan, vice president, AIKS, T Ravindran (Tamil Nadu), Appa Rao (AP) , B Venkat Reddy, (Telangana), Nikam (Maharashtra), Munnabbar Jalil (UP), Balwan Singh (Haryana), Gangadhar Jha (Bihar), Gayaram Singh Dhakar (MP), Daljit Singh (Uttarkhand) and Maruti Manpade (Karnataka) addressed the protesting farmers. Jitendra Chowdhury, MP, greeted the sugarcane farmers and assured all support to their demands. S Malla Reddy, vice president, AIKS presented vote of thanks.