Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Brahmapur, Dec 31:
With the crushing season just round the corner, sugarcane growers in Odisha’s Ganjam district have urged authorities of the Aska Cooperative Sugar Industries Ltd (ACSIL) to fix the procurement rate of sugarcane at Rs 3,500 per tonne at field level.
ACSIL, the oldest sugar industry in the cooperative sector in the state, had procured sugarcane at the rate of Rs 2,270 per tonne in the last crushing season, which also included Rs 50 per tonne as transport subsidy.
The Ganjam District Sugarcane Growers’ Association (GDSGA) has submitted a memorandum to the ACSIL authorities in this regard after a meeting of sugarcane growers at Aska.
“We have demanded a hike in the procurement price since input costs in sugar cultivation have gone up substantially,” said Samira Pradhan, general secretary GDSGA.
The district’s sugarcane growers had suffered heavy losses due the Cyclone Phailin last year. Though the government had declared a special package of Rs 4.99 crore for the sugarcane growers in the district, the farmers are yet to get the relief, except the fertilizer component, alleged association vice president Narayan Jena.
The association also demanded coverage of farmers under crop insurance taking panchayat as a unit.
“Procurement price needs to be increased to encourage farmers to take up sugarcane cultivation in more areas,” said Pradhan.
The area under sugarcane crop in the district has reduced drastically over the last few years as farmers think it is not a profit-making crop any more, said Jena. Around a decade ago, the area under sugarcane cultivation in the district was around 12,000-acres, which came down to around 8,400-acres last year, he alleged.
“The price fixation committee will consider the demand of the farmers considering all aspects,” said an official of ACSIL.
The ACSIL authorities plan to start sugarcane crushing operation in the first week of January.