The Uttar Pradesh government is expecting a bumper crop as sugarcane harvest is at the peak in the State, but it is unlikely to announce the State Advised Price (SAP) for sugarcane for this season.
Though farmers have been demanding an increase in the SAP considering the hike in input cost, Uttar Pradesh Sugarcane Minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary told The Hindu that such a proposal is not before the Cabinet at present. The government’s claim is that the SAP announced in 2021 is among the highest in the country considering the area of cultivation and number of farmers involved in sugarcane farming in the State.
Farmers said though the harvest of sugarcane started in October first week and the sugar mills have started crushing the sugarcane for more than one and a half months, the delay in announcing the SAP is condemnable.
Mr. Chaudhary told The Hindu that Uttar Pradesh has the highest SAP after Punjab and Haryana. “At present, last year’s SAP will continue. The Cabinet is yet to consider any demand to increase the SAP. Till a decision to increase the SAP is taken, last year’s SAP will continue,” he said and added that crushing has started in Western Uttar Pradesh and will start soon in Central Uttar Pradesh.
The government says that the change in policy since 2017 has helped increase the number of farmers from 33 lakh to 47 lakh.
“Excess and untimely rains have created problems in production in the last three-four seasons. There is a shift in monsoon pattern. But this year, we expect a better crop output despite damage in some pockets due to unseasonal rains. Because of late rains, the sugar recovery could be down by 1% to 8%. We hope that in another week, it would be better as there is sunshine now. Crushing is delayed. Mills started on October 20, a delay by a fortnight. It will impact ethanol production too. All 120 mills will function and we are sure that sugar and ethanol production will also be better than last year,” said Sanjay Bhoosreddy, State Additional Chief Secretary (Sugar Industry and Excise), adding that the sugarcane arrears owed to farmers by the mills have also been settled to a large extent with efforts from the government.
The farmers and Opposition parties, however, have said they will protest against the delay in announcing SAP. “We will protest in Lucknow demanding the State government to announce the SAP at the earliest,” said Samyukt Kisan Morcha leader Rakesh Tikait.
“We do not understand why they are delaying its announcement. For the farmers, our input cost has increased. The harvest is in the last stage and crushing has started, but the SAP is not yet announced,” Mr. Tikait told The Hindu.
Rajya Sabha member and leader of the Rashtriya Lok Dal Jayant Chaudhary said the government kept increasing the prices of fertilisers, pesticides and fuel but are not increasing the SAP. “We will put public pressure on the government. Now, the government is delaying the decision citing bypoll in some constituencies. But they could have announced the SAP much before the announcement of bypolls,” Mr. Chaudhary said.
While the AAP-ruled Punjab recently announced the SAP as ₹380 for a quintal of sugarane, three BJP ruled States — Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Uttarakhand — are yet to announce the SAP for this season.
U.P’s SAP for 2021-22 is ₹350 for the best variety and ₹340 for common varieties of sugarcane. When the BJP came to power in 2017, the SAP was ₹315 for a quintal. Last season, the SAP was announced in September. SAP is announced every year during the harvest or before the beginning of harvest.