Uncertainty in getting suitable price cited as one of the reasons
Uncertainty in getting suitable price for sugarcane and the unending crisis have resulted in some farmers in districts such as Mysore and Chamarajanagar shifting to substitute crops for better and instantaneous returns.
“It is true that some growers have quit sugarcane cultivation and shifted to fruit and vegetable cultivation, which was giving them faster returns. The uncertainty in sugarcane price and delayed payment by sugar factories have disillusioned some growers. They are now earning more from alternative crops,” said Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association president Kurbur Shanthakumar.
Mr. Shanthakumar, who is in the forefront of agitations across the State seeking better price for sugarcane, told The Hindu that there were 62 sugar factories in the State, including the two newly-opened ones in Chamarajanagar and Bijapur districts, and their combined crushing capacity was around 4.7 crore tonnes a year.
However, 3.6 crore tonnes of sugarcane was being supplied to the factories. Though there was a shortfall in supply, the area under sugarcane cultivation had not gone up, perhaps because of the uncertainty over price.
“Farmers are fed up over unending uncertainties and not in a mood to continue cultivation under these circumstances. Some of them have shifted to cultivating plantain, papaya, oil palm, watermelon, onion and so on,” the farmer leader said.
“The returns are immediate, unlike sugarcane.”
Mr. Shanthkumar said the State was in need of 10 lakh quintals of ragi but managed to get only one lakh quintals owing to the decline in production.
“I attribute this to the lack of a price mechanism. If suitable price is not assured, farmers will gradually shift to crops that give them better returns without the government or anybody’s interventions,” he said.
Sugarcane is cultivated in about eight to nine lakh acres in the State and about 20,000 acres in Mysore district.