In Uttar Pradesh, sugarcane farmers not paid for 2020, get ‘zero price’ receipts for 2021

Indents given to sugarcane farmers of western UP have not recorded the payments due to them after procurement of their crop this year. Additionally, they have not been paid their 2020 cane dues either

(Photo by Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images)
(Photo by Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images)

Ashlin Mathew

Sugarcane farmers in western Uttar Pradesh are on the edge as sugarcane mills have not recorded the payments due to them on the indents given after crop procurement this year. Additionally, they have not been paid their 2020 cane dues either.

“From November 2020 till the second week of January, the amount due on all our receipts has been shown as zero. After we began to protest, the mills have begun to register it as ‘as per SAP’, but there is no state-advised price (SAP) this year. So, when will we get the payment?” said Manoj Kumar, a farmer in Bhagpat who owns three hectares of land. Until last year, the amount due used to be recorded on the parchi.

The situation has got aggravated because Uttar Pradesh government is yet to announce the SAP even though three months have passed since the new sugarcane season began. The season begins in November or the last week of October and goes on till April. The state government has not released any official statement for the delay.

In Uttar Pradesh, sugarcane farmers not paid for 2020, get ‘zero price’ receipts for 2021

By the third week of December 2020, 120 sugar mills across the state had procured 2,600 lakh quintal sugarcane from farmers.

This situation is worse for Satyender Singh from Chaprauli as he owns only two acres of land and these delays mean he is forced to borrow money. “The sugarcane mills have taken 22 quintals of cane, but I do not know what price I will be paid. We are living with constant instability and the Yogi Adityanath government has not increased the price for sugarcane for the last three years. We are forced to sell milk that is meant for the family to survive. This year we heard the price maybe Rs 285 per quintal,” lamented Singh.

The Uttar Pradesh government has not increased the price of sugarcane for the last three years. For 2019-20, SAP was Rs 315 per quintal for the common variety, which accounts for almost half of the total sugarcane produce. The prices for early variety and rejected varieties of cane were Rs 325 a quintal and Rs 310 a quintal respectively.

In Uttar Pradesh, sugarcane farmers not paid for 2020, get ‘zero price’ receipts for 2021

In Western Uttar Pradesh, most farmers are supposed to get Rs 325 per quintal. But, even 14 months later, the amount has not yet been credited.

“This season, we have already supplied 18 parchis to the sugarcane mills, but all the receipts show ‘0’ as the amount due to us. We aren’t sure when the dues will be paid. We still haven’t got paid for the sugarcane we supplied from April to June last year,” pointed out Rahul Chaudhary, whose family owns 20 acres in Bijnor.

Each parchi or indent is given for 18 quintals.

The distress is all across western Uttar Pradesh with many farmers stating that this is the situation across the state.

This is despite BJP having come to power in the state after having promised paying cane farmers within 14 days of procurement. Another Muzaffarnagar-based farmer Surendra Sehrawat, who owns 4 acres, maintained that they would not get their payments this year. He added that they are unlikely to even get last year’s dues this year. “We are waiting for the UP elections next year.”

In Uttar Pradesh, sugarcane farmers not paid for 2020, get ‘zero price’ receipts for 2021

The farmers have been expecting an increase in the SAP this year. But, according to sources, the government is waiting to see the outcome of the farmers’ protest before fixing the SAP though there is pressure on the government to increase the SAP.

The Central government had announced the fair and remunerative (FRP) price for sugarcane for 2020-21 in August last year. It had increased FRP by Rs 10 to Rs 285. Additionally, the Centre has recommended increasing the minimum selling price of sugar by Rs 2 per kg to Rs 33.

The SAP in Uttar Pradesh has always been higher than the Centre’s FRP.

According to reports, Uttar Pradesh farmers were the worst-affected as dues stood at Rs 10,174 crore in October 2020. The amount has only increased. The unpaid dues stood at Rs 39 crore for 2017-18 while for 2016-17 and previous years, the arrears amounted to Rs 135 crore.

Since 1999, the BJP has been in power in Uttar Pradesh for six years and during these years, SAP for sugarcane was increased by Rs 20 only. The biggest hike of Rs 40 per quintal in sugarcane’s SAP happened in 2012-13 during the tenure of the Akhilesh Yadav government.

This is not the only issue bothering farmers. “Even with our dues piling up, the government has been increasing the electricity rates for farms every year. Earlier it was Rs 800 per connection and now it has reached Rs 1,700 per connection. Ever since the BJP government has come to power in Uttar Pradesh, they have continuously increased the power tariff. The price of fertilisers has risen too,” added Kumar.

Uttar Pradesh’s electricity tariff is the highest in the country. The Yogi Adityanath-led government had increased the power tariff in 2017, followed by another hike in 2019. In 2017, the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) announced a hike of 12% in power tariff and in 2019, a hike of 8% to 12% was approved.

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