Muzaffarnagar: Gone are the days when sugarcane farming was a profitable affair, says Rajendra Kumar, a farmer from Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh.
Kumar, 53, who owns four bighas of land on Shamli road, says he had to bear a loss of around Rs 15,000 in the last yield.
“Ganne ne to poori mithaas kho di hai ji. Na sahi time par paisa mile hai, na sahi daam mila hai,” says Kumar, which means that sugarcane has lost its sweetness, farmers do not make profit out of it any longer, and the arrears due to them are not paid on time.
Kumar, who has two daughters and a son, says he is yet to receive Rs 75,000 from sugar mills for the cane that he supplied to them for crushing. His debts are mounting now.
Kumar is not the only one who is facing this situation, says Dharmendra Malik, national spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU),
“A lot of farmers in the cane belt have stopped growing the sweet crop and are turning towards other things because there is no profit now and a lot of labour is involved. If you go to Saharanpur, you will find that over 50% of farmers have either given land on rent to other farmers, or have planted Poplar trees because they are able to earn at least something without facing losses”, he says.
Explaining the rates that the farmers are getting, Malik says the computation of minimum support price (MSP) is done in three ways.
“The first one is A2, which includes the cost of seeds, cost of manure and medicine. The other one is A2+FL which includes the cost of seeds, manure, medicine, electricity and family labour and the last one is C2 which includes all the cost of A2+FL plus 10 percent managerial cost,” he explains.
At present, cane farmers are getting A2+FL but they are demanding the MSP on C2+50% profit, which was also recommended by the Swaminathan Commission.
Sudhir Panwar, an agriculture expert and professor in University of Lucknow, says the government has failed to serve the cane farmers, demonstrating its inefficiency.
“Farmers now know that all the promises being made by this government are jumlas (hollow statements), nothing more. There is huge disappointment among cane farmers over the issue of non-payment of arrears, delay in the payment and even on the MSP, and this will cost the government dear in the Lok Sabha polls,” Panwar says.
Cost of Cane Farming on One Bigha
Following is the cost that incurs on producing cane on one bigha land:
Impact on Farmers
Rajendra Kumar, another cane farmer, while showing a receipt, commonly known as Ganna Parchi, says this piece of paper is more precious than their lives.
“We get this receipt from the person in the sugar mill who weighs our cane. This is the only proof we have to claim that we have given our cane to the mills,” he says, adding that a cane farmer in can afford to lose other important documents but never this one.
Kumar says the delay in payment by sugar mills has forced farmers to take money from local moneylenders on huge rates of interests which affects the lives of farmers, who are facing mounting debts.