Cane growers up in arms over government notification

BELAGAVI: When the main opposition party BJP is all set to rock the winter session here from December 10 inside and outside the House over the issue, government has handed it a weapon by issuing a controversial notification on December 4.
The government has instructed and sugar mills to enter into a bilateral agreement on buying and selling of sugarcane well in advance. According to the copy published by the government, both parties must agree on 24 points. Various farmer organisations are upset by some points and have announced an indefinite strike during the session.

The model states that farmers have to accept rates fixed by the Centre and state. Besides, farmers have to take their produce to the doorstep of the factory. In rare occasions, factory can take harvesting and transport of sugarcane using its labourers. In such cases, harvesting and transport cost will be deducted from the payment.

The guidelines say if farmer does not supply sugarcane to the mill after the agreement, he has to compensate the factory. On the other hand, if the factory does not take sugarcane due to any reason, farmers can supply the produce to other factories after taking approval from the , Bengaluru. Guidelines say farmer can’t harvest sugarcane without a factory order, can’t supply produce to other factories and can’t use sugarcane to make jaggery.

Also, farmers should grow sugarcane varieties suited to the factory or recommended by agriculture universities or sugar institutes. If there’s violation of agreement, the factory of farmer can approach the sugar commissioner seeking justice.

Divergent views

‘Notification against farmers’ interest’

Sidagouda Modagi, state president, Bharatiya Krishik Samaj, said the guidelines are against the C Rangarajan Committee Report which recommends giving a free hand to farmers to supply produce to any factory which gives a high price. He said, “It looks like the government wants to restrict farmers. Asking farmers to compensate factories is ridiculous which shows the anti-farmer mindset. We’ll launch an indefinite strike against the government seeking withdrawal of the notification.”

In farmers’ interest

Belagavi DC S B Bommanhalli said the guidelines were framed in the interest of farmers as the agreement will be the legal document and guarantee of payment. In case of violation of agreement, they can sue the factory in court as well as go to the sugar commissioner. However, if farmers have any objections, they can bring it to the government’s notice.

Govt shirking its responsibility

Advocate B P Sheri, chairman, National Farmers Organisation, wondered what the role of the government would be if the farmer and factory sign a bilateral agreement. This is a government attempt to shed its responsibilities towards farmers. Making it binding on farmers with respect to supply of produce, growing only instructed varieties, accepting FRP or SAP rates are unacceptable.

CM assured of paying ex-field rate

Kuruburu Shantkumar, president, Karnataka Sugarcane Growers Association, said although guidelines seek acceptance of farmers for ex-gate sugarcane price, we’re fighting for ex-field. Chief minister HD Kumaraswamy has already assured an ex-field rate. Besides, there is no mention about profit sharing which comes to the factories from by-products.

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