Chandigarh, November 20: With the state government refusing to hike the state advisory price (SAP) of sugarcane, farmers who have cultivated the crop over 97,000 hectares in the state have no option but to dump it at the nearest mill.

While farmers have been demanding increase in SAP from Rs 300 per quintal to Rs 350 per 100 kilogram, mill owners say any hike in price will make their business unviable. The neighbouring Haryana has fixed the SAP at Rs 330 per quintal for this season.

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Sukhwinder Singh, a cane grower from Bhattian village in Machhiwara of Ludhiana district, said he has reduced the area under sugarcane cultivation to an acre from 12 acres.

“Before that, I used to grow sugarcane on 35 acres, but I now have decided to cultivate other crops due to high input cost and low returns,” he said. The state expects 675 lakh quintal sugarcane production this season.

Cane commissioner Jaswant Singh told HT that due to financial constraints, the government has decided not to hike cane price. The farmers are yet to be paid ₹46 crore for the last year’s produce. “The farmers should not seek hike but improve productivity and grow vegetables, along with sugarcane,” he said.

Punjab can’t match Haryana in increasing the cane price as the neighbouring state better placed financially, he added. Rana Inder Partap Singh who runs a sugar mill in Gurdaspur said they were already paying Rs 45 more to the farmers than the price fixed by the Centre.

Rajinder Singh Raju Chadha, owner of the Dasuya sugar mill, predicted increase in sugar production this season, leading to fall in sugar prices. He said the wholesale price of sugar is Rs 3,550 per quintal, where as it is costing Rs 4,100 per quintal. This includes 5% GST (Rs 200), Rs 50 transportation charges and Rs 100 as dealer margin.

“We are already incurring huge loses, as a quintal of sugar is selling at ex-factory price of Rs 3,550 per quintal and it would further fall to Rs 3,400 quintal in a few days,” said Rana Inderbir.

Chadha said, prices of molasses, a byproduct of sugarcane, which used to cover up the losses, have fallen from Rs 4,000 per tonne to Rs 1,000 per tonne,” he said.

Every week, traders from Delhi are Kolkata are importing 25,000 quintals of sugar from Pakistan. “The government should ban the import of sugar to save the state’s industry,” said Rana Inderbir.

A faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, led by Balbir Singh Rajewal, has decided to gherao houses of Punjab MLAs as a mark of protest against the state government’s failure to fulfil the pre-poll promise of a complete farm loan waiver.

The farmers would also demand increase in SAP of sugarcane on a par with Haryana.

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