Sugar prices had remained depressed, which had affected the liquidity of sugar mills, a govt reply said
While the new sugar-crushing season is set to begin from October, the outstanding payment dues to sugarcane farmers across the country stand at Rs 15,683 crore as on September 11, according to a reply given to a question in Parliament on September 15, 2020.
Of this, Rs 12,994 crore pertains to crop procured during the 2019-20 marketing season, the reply added.
Farmers in Uttar Pradesh (UP) were the worst-affected as the state had the highest share in unpaid dues, at Rs 10,174 crore. Of this, Rs 10,000 crore was of the 2019-20 sugar season that started in October 2019.
For 2017-18, unpaid dues amounted to Rs 39 crore and for 2016-17 and previous years, the arrears stood at Rs 135 crore respectively.
The UP government had issued notices to defaulting sugar mills, including directing them to clear cane price arrears of farmers, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution Danve Raosaheb Dadarao informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
UP was followed by Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, where the total unpaid dues of the last three years amounted to Rs 1,834 crore and Rs 924 crore respectively.
Of the total cane dues of Rs 15,683 crore, Rs 1,899 crore pertained to 2016-17 and previous years, Rs 242 crore pertained to 2017-18 and Rs 548 crore pertained to 2018-19, the reply said.
This was on account of sugar prices remaining depressed, which affected the liquidity of sugar mills, the government said.
“Payment of cane price to sugarcane farmers by the sugar mills is a continuous process. However, on account of surplus sugar production during the previous sugar seasons, the sugar prices remained depressed which adversely affected the liquidity of the sugar mills, resulting in accumulation of cane price arrears of the farmers,” it said.
The government had taken various measures in the past three sugar seasons in order to improve the liquidity of sugar mills and enable them to clear cane price arrears of farmers, it said.
These included extended assistance to sugar mills to facilitate export of sugar, extended assistance to mills for maintaining buffer stocks, extended soft loans to sugar mills through banks to clear cane price dues; fixed Minimum Selling Price of sugar, etc.
Just last month, scores of sugarcane farmers under the banner of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) had protested to demand payment of their dues.
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