This year too, it has remained unresolved and the issue has taken a serious turn, after a farmer committed suicide at Belgaum on Wednesday.
Year-on-year, consensus continues to elude between the farmers and the sugar factory owners over the issue of price. For the government of the day, it's a prickly issue. It can't ignore the farmers, but at the same time can't act strong against the strong sugar lobby, which is run or controlled by politicians from all parties.
The state government's woes have increased after 2009. Since October 2009, the Central government authorized the state governments to fix State Advisory Price (SAP) for sugarcane. In 2010, it delegated its powers to the states to fix SAP based on sugar recovery, by amending section 3 (3C) of the Essential Commodities Act. Among 18 sugarcane growing states, 14 has implemented SAP since 2009-10 including UP, MP and Uttarakhand. In 2013, Karnataka has enacted the Karnataka Sugarcane (Purchase and Supply Control) Act 2013 and constituted the Sugarcane Control Board. The board, which has met a couple of times in the last one month, has failed to resolve the crisis. Initially, it suggested Rs 2,400 per tonne. But, it was rejected both by the mills and farmers. Later, due to protests, it revised it to Rs 2,500 per tonne, but even this didn't make anybody happy.
The growers say the managements give false figures on conversion cost and income from sugarcane, but in reality make profits from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and bagasse.
Sugar mills usually begin crushing operations by mid November and continue till the sugarcane is exhausted. Following the farmers' demand, this year, mills in the north Karnataka region stopped crushing a month ago.