ITAGA (GULBARGA DISTRICT), September 16: Sugar and Muzrai Minister Prakash B. Hukkeri has said that a purchasing price of Rs. 2,400 per tonne fixed for sugarcane this year by the government was not the final price and this would be only an initial payment to be made by factories.
The final price for sugarcane would be fixed by a 15-member high-level committee consisting of government officials, representatives of farmers and sugar factories.
Speaking at a sugarcane growers convention at Itaga village on the banks of the Bhima in Jewargi taluk in Gulbarga district on Sunday, Mr. Hukkeri, who also holds the Small Scale Industries portfolio, said that the committee would take into consideration pros and cons before fixing the final price for sugarcane supplied to sugar factories.
Mr. Hukkeri said that the government was committed to safeguarding the interests of sugarcane growers and it would strive to get them remunerative prices. At the same time, the interests of sugar factories would also have to be taken into consideration and fixing unreasonable prices for sugarcane could lead to the closure of sugar factories.
Echoing the same sentiments, Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge, in his inaugural address, said that of the 71 sugar factories in the State, 13 have closed down.
While protecting the interests of farmers, the government cannot shut its eyes to the investments made by private companies and cooperative societies for establishing these sugar factories, he said. Any decision of the government should help both the sugarcane growers and the factories, he added.
Mr. Kharge said that the country, which had achieved self-sufficiency in the production of sugar, was now exporting sugar. As against a demand of 230 lakh tonnes of sugar, production of sugar now stood at 248 lakh tonnes and the government has relaxed conditions to enable sugar factories to export excess sugar and earn some profit.
Mr. Hukkeri said that the government was purchasing sugar directly from factories to be supplied through the public distribution system and this would help sugar factories and farmers to make profits. The government had decided to provide one kg of sugar to BPL cardholders.
He said that the government has decided to provide 70 per cent subsidy to those using solar energy for their irrigation pumpsets. This would help sugarcane growers overcome the problem of shortage of power to irrigate crops.
The government has issued a direction clearing Rs. 2,200 crore due to farmers for sugarcane supplied last season, before crushing operations start this year. “We have told sugar factories that unless they clear all arrears of farmers, permission would not be given for crushing operations this year,” he said.