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UP: Centre Hikes Sugarcane FRP Ahead of Polls; an “Eyewash” to Hide Failures, Say Farmers

Farmers said the Yogi Adityanath government in the state, which came with the “promise” to pay Rs 400 per quintal for sugarcane, has not raised the figure by "a single penny" in four-and-half years of his tenure.

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Lucknow: Gearing up for the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre on Wednesday approved an increase in the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) — the minimum price that sugar mills have to pay cane growers to Rs 290 per quintal, an increase of five rupees from the previous year.

The decision to increase the fair and remunerative price for sugarcane for the 2021-22 marketing year (October-September) was taken in a Cabinet meeting held in New Delhi. However, the decision is being opposed by several farmers’ unions and cane farmers — the lifeline of western Uttar Pradesh. They said the Yogi Adityanath government in the state, which came with the “promise” to pay Rs 400 per quintal for sugarcane, has not raised the figure by "a single penny" in four-and-half years of his tenure. The said the Centre was making a "mockery" of farmers by the five rupee increase.

“FRP has been increased to Rs 290 per quintal for a basic recovery rate of 10%. A premiums of Rs 2.90 per quintal will be provided for each 0.1 per cent increase in recovery over and above 10%,” Piyush Goyal, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister said while briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting.

Taking a jibe at the Centre’s decision to increase the FRP on sugarcane, Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), sarcastically called it a “historic decision”.

“There are several states in north India, including Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh where state advisory price (SAP) is already higher than the the FRP. The mills in these states have to adhere to the SAP. The question that arises now is how the decision taken by the government will be beneficial for the sugarcane growers. The government should also tell us the formula,” Tikait said.

“Farmers of the cane belt, which forms the backbone of western Uttar Pradesh, always remember Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and former chief minister Mayawati, who increased prices by Rs 115 per quintal over five years of her tenure. When Mayawati took charge in 2007, the price for sugarcane was Rs 125 per quintal – she increased it to Rs 240 in five years. Akhilesh Yadav also increased it by Rs 65 in five years of his Samajwadi government. The current government is proving to be a weaker government than previous ones, since they have not increased prices by a single penny,” the BKU leader told Newsclick.

Notably, Tikait had met CM Yogi Adityanath last year and had demanded for the SAP to be raised from Rs 325 to Rs 400.

“Since 2017, when the Adityanath assumed power, SAP for sugarcane has been increased only by Rs 10. It has been more than four years since rates have been revised. The input cost is rising as the prices for diesel, urea, and pesticides have increased,” another farmer said.

Meanwhile, a day after the Punjab government approved a Rs 35 per quintal hike in the state agreed price (SAP) for sugarcane farmers – following a farmers' agitation – and the Centre increased FRP by five rupees, the Yogi Adityanath-led government in the state has decided to increase the purchase price of sugarcane before the beginning of the coming crushing season in October.

Apart from increasing cane prices and clearing all the pending dues of farmers, the CM also announced that the government would withdraw cases against farmers and revoke fines imposed on them for buring crop stubble in the fields. He said this while interacting with a delegation of around 150 farmers from the state at his residence in Lucknow.

“For the Centre to increase prices by merely five rupees per quintal is an eyewash to hide its failures; it has not delivered as promised during the last elections. Even the Yogi government has not increased prices by a rupee in four and a half years. They will also increase prices by five to ten rupees per quintal which will come to Rs 335. When prices of diesel and pesticides are skyrocketing, how will this benefit farmers?” asked Mukut Singh, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), general secretary, UP. He said it was only an "election gimmick and nothing else".

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