Maharashtra’s farmers’ union Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) has warned the state government against supporting the Centre’s proposal to offer staggered fair and remunerative price (FRP) payments to farmers.
The Centre has constituted a high-level committee to look into a recommendation made by the Niti Aayog to implement a model of staggered payments to sugarcane growers and has asked state governments to submit their suggestions on this issue. Gujarat follows this model for making cane payments to farmers.
Said Raju Shetty, founder of the SSS quoted in Financial Express, “The Centre has called for suggestions from the state governments. The Centre has already passed three farm laws which are not in the interest of farmers. The state government has also constituted a panel to study this issue. However, the committee does not have any farmer representatives.”
Shetty warned that his organisation will be forced to take action and come down on the streets if the Maharashtra government submits suggestions in favor of the recommendations made by the Niti Aayog.
Earlier this month, Maharashtra sugar millers had advocated adopting the Gujarat model for payment against the purchase of sugarcane and to begin the practice of payment in three stages during the sugar season.
According to the Niti Aayog, if farmers are paid 60 per cent of the sugarcane FRP upfront, it will cover their entire farming and labour cost, along with providing a little margin over the same. The farming cost covers all paid-out costs that are directly incurred by the farmer on seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, hired labor, leased-in land, fuel, irrigation, etc.
According to the latest arrears report, factories in the state still owe farmers Rs 2,073.05 crore in FRP dues. Mills have so far paid Rs 19,286.65 crore, amounting to 90.29% of the total FRP payments, to farmers this season. The total FRP payable to farmers is Rs 21,359.69 crore. The sugar commissionerate has taken action against 19 mills for their failure to FRP payments.