‘Crushed’ in-between, SP govt delays fixing SAP for sugarcane

Even as most sugar mills in the state have started operations and the opposition parties are accusing the government of being hand in glove with the mill owners, the Akhilesh Yadav government is yet to announce the state advised price (SAP) for sugarcane.

In the last two years, the Mayawati government increased the SAP of sugarcane by Rs 35. In 2011-12, it was Rs 240 per quintal for normal sugarcane, Rs 250 for early variety and Rs 230 for other varieties. Now, the Congress is demanding Rs 325 per quintal and the BJP Rs 400 per qunital, while the mill owners says there is little scope for further increase.

Interestingly, the Samajwadi Party, in its election manifesto, had promised that it will decide the minimum support price (MSP) of any crop by adding 50 per cent to the production cost.

Deepak Guptara, secretary of the UP Sugar Mills Association, said: "As the increase in SAP was steep last year, we have requested the government not to increase it this year." He said that the sugar industry is already running in loss because of more production than the demand and if the state government decides to go in for another steep rise in SAP, the industry is bound to face severe loss this year.

Professor AK Singh, Director, Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow, too, believes that sugarcane price is already high, which makes the sugar industry non-viable.

"The fair and remunerative price (FRP) decided by the Centre is sufficient for a fair profit on sugarcane. The farmers are getting three to four times more profit in sugarcane farming per acre than foodgrain," said Singh, who is in favour of deregulation of sugar industry. He says that since the FRP of sugarcane is Rs 170 per quintal, an increase of Rs 35 on the present SAP of Rs 240 would be "a reasonable compromise for both the farmers and the mill owners."

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