Sugar factories warn of legal action

Sugar factories refuses to pay new price for sugarcane, will go court.
Belgaum/Mysore: Two days after the government announced a new price for sugarcane, the Federation of Private Sugar Factories refused to pay it and warned it would move the courts if the government continued to insist on it.
Describing the price of Rs 2,500 per tonne of cane fixed by the government as unscientific, chairman of Renuka Sugars, Vidya Markumbi claimed the factories could not afford to pay the growers so much and would have no choice but to close down if forced to fall in line.
Addressing a press conference in Belgaum, Markumbi accused the government of fixing the price of cane unilaterally and without a fair calculation. While the federation would submit a memorandum to Chief Minister Sid­daramaiah on Monday in Belgaum against the pressure being brought on the factories on the price front, it would take legal action if he was still not convinced, she warned.
“If the government tries to impose an arbitrary cane price on the industry which is already burdened with last year's losses, the factories crushing the cane will have to close down as it will not be economically feasible to carry on. This will also leave the cane produced by farmers in the fields,” she said, deploring that the problems of the factories were not taken into consideration and nor were they consulted by the government before taking a decision on the new price of cane.
“To save the farmers and industry, leaders of both need to decide on the price that will meet both their needs,” she suggested.
While the federation, which largely represents sugar mills of north Karnataka threatened action, it was unclear whether t­h­e 14 s­ugar factories of My­sore, Mandya, Cha­marajanagar, Hassan and Davanagere that have already crushed over 60 per cent of the sugarcane, would toe its line.
Of the 14, two factories are government owned, two are cooperatives and the remaining, private. S.V. Balasubramaniam, Executive Chairman of Bannari Amman Group, which runs a sugar factory near Nanjangud in Mysore and a factory in Kollegal, switched off his mobile phone when asked whether he was willing to pay the government price of Rs 2,650 per tonne of sugarcane or join forces with the sugar mills of North Karnataka, who are threatening to stop the crushing. Other sugar mill owners were equally evasive.
Bannari Amman Sugars Limited in Mysore is a major player in the region, where sugar mills have crushed over 35 to 40 lakh tonnes of cane so far at the previous year’s rate of Rs 2,400 per tonne of cane. With only 20 lakh tonnes of sugarcane left to be crushed, its not clear whether the farmers will be paid arrears at the rate of 2,650 per tonne now announced by the government.
Kurbur Shanthakumar, president of the Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association, said sugar mills in the region were purchasing cane from farmers at only Rs 2,000 per tonne, if the cutting and transportation costs were not taken into account. “They are not bothered as they are making a huge profit,” he charged, also accusing the government of fixing the minimum support price for cane unscientifically. “Despite, far­mers’ protests people’s representatives in Mysore are not bothered although this is Chief Minister’s home district,” he regretted.
Next: Distressed tobacco grower ends life
Distressed tobacco grower ends life
S.V. Krishna Chaitanya
Mysore: It’s not just sugarcane farmers who are in distress. Tobacco growers too have been hit by a sudden crash in prices. A farmer committed suicide on Friday night by consuming a pesticide in his field in Guluvinatthiguppe of Hosa Agrahara Hobli of K.R. Nagar taluk of Mysore district, which is the home turf of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
The police identified the deceased as Thammegowda (45), who is survived by wife and a son. Thammegowda, who owned a two-acre plot, had taken a Rs 3 lakh loan from the Cauvery Grameena Bank and also borrowed heavily from private money lenders, his family and relatives said.
Thammegowda had no means of clearing his loan as the price of tobacco crashed, and the Tobacco Board too failed to fix a ‘fair’ minimum support price (MSP). Another villager, Mahesh, who is also a tobacco grower, said the price of tobacco crashed from Rs 160 to Rs 115 per kg in the last 45 days. Farmers protested in front of the Tobacco Board office seeking a fair price, but no remedial action was taken.
Another farmer, who wished not to be identified, said, “This region has thousands of tobacco growers. If the Board does not act now, there will be many more suicides. We request the government to intervene and announced a better support price. The cost incurred by us to grow a kilogram of tobacco is Rs 115. If we are paid the same amount, what will we do for our livelihood? We are also burdened with hefty interest rates.”
Soon after the news of Thammegowda’s suicide spread, hundreds of tobacco growers staged protest and demanded adequate compensation. K.R. Nagar MLA Sa.Ra. Mahesh said that he would pursue the issue with the government and also ensure adequate compensation.
100 farmers committed suicide last fiscal
Hundred farmers across the state committed suicide in the last financial year, according to the statistics available with the agriculture department. The farmers, burdened with heavy loans, erratic rainfall and crashing prices of produce, resorted to the extreme step.
The highest number of deaths was reported from Bidar (14), Chitradurga (12) and Hassan (10), followed by Chikmagalur (8), Davanagere (7) and Mysore (6). Farmer leaders claimed that the agriculture department did not record all suicides, while terming many of them as due to family dispute and other reasons. “If a farmer dies because he was unable to marry his daughter off, then it has to be because of agriculture-related issues. The yardstick of judging farmer suicide cases should be changed,” said a leader, who wished not to be identified.
Next: Siddu firmly on farmers’ side

Siddu firmly on farmers’ side
K N. Reddy
Gulbarga: Chief Minister Siddarmaiah seems to be worried over the vexed minimum support price for sugarcane, which was evident from the importance he gave to the issue at the inauguration of a new campus of the Central University here on Saturday.
Siddaramaiah who lost his cool a couple of times during the legislature session in Belgaum, though remained cool despite provocation by a farmer who raised slogans against him and waved a black flag. He repeatedly assured farmers that his government is committed to safeguarding the interest of farmers.
Barring a few references to the funds his government had provided for primary and higher education in the budget and wishing the university to emerge as a world class institution, Siddarmaiah devoted his entire speech to explain the steps his government had taken to protect the interest of farmers, and how committing suicide was not a solution to tackle the problems being faced by the farming community.
“After assuming power, we initiated steps to restart the crushing operations at three sugar factories – Mandya, Pandavapura and Brahmavar, which had stopped their activities – by releasing Rs 34 crore. We have announced MSP for various commodities and will soon announce the support price for tur dal as well, which is a major crop in this region”.
“Never in the history of the state such high MSP of Rs 3,500 per tonne of sugarcane has been announced. We have also decided to give a subsidy of Rs 150 per tonne. This is in addition to reimbursement of loans to farmers to the extent of Rs 2,500 crore that was waived of by the previous government.”
He said, “The farmer should not have committed suicide, it was unfortunate. The government, which had announced formation of price fixation committee for agriculture commodities in the previous budget, is going to set it up by January and all necessary steps would be taken to give scientific rates to their produce. Farmers should never get agitated and government will never lag behind in protecting your interests,” he said.
( Source : dc )
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