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Fall in prices leaves farmers in dire straits

Nagesh Prabhu

They are concerned over low procurement prices


Demands
  • Fix sugarcane price at Rs. 1,200 a tonne
  • Announce better procurement price for onion



    DEMANDS GALORE: A file picture of sugarcane farmers staging a dharna in Mysore seeking remunerative support price for the crop. — Photo: M.A. Sriram

    BANGALORE: Growers of sugarcane, onion, arecanut and coconut are in distress in several districts of the State owing to the steep fall in prices of these commodities. They are also unhappy over the delay in procurement and the low procurement prices offered by the Government.

    Growers of sugarcane and onion in north Karnataka and arecanut growers in coastal and Malnad districts have been holding protests demanding remunerative prices for their produce.

    A meeting of sugarcane growers with the Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa ended in a stalemate on Wednesday as they demanded that the price of sugarcane be fixed at Rs. 1,200 a tonne.

    Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha Horata Samithi observed bandh in Tiptur and Arsikere on Monday and Tuesday in protest against the Government's "failure" to buy copra despite announcing a support price of Rs. 4,775 a quintal.

    Financial losses incurred by cooperative sugar factories and the fall in sugar price from Rs. 1,800 a quintal in 2005 to Rs. 1,500 a quintal in the open market this year are the other factors that have resulted in the fall in the price of sugarcane, according to officials of South India Sugar Mills' Association.

    The strike launched by sugarcane growers of Bagalkot entered the eleventh day on Thursday.

    They are demanding opening of factories and a one-time payment of Rs. 1,200 a tonne for cane. Sugarcane growers of Haveri district on Thursday held a meeting with Sugar Minister S.A. Ravindranath.

    Officials of the Agriculture Department said that copra prices had slumped on account of indiscriminate import of edible oil.

    Import of edible oil increased from 26.22 lakh tonnes (Rs. 7,588.93 crore) in 1998-99 to 45.42 lakh tonnes (Rs. 10,755.65 crore) in 2004-05. Onion growers of Gadag, Dharwad and Haveri districts are unhappy with procurement of their produce.

    There have been cases of growers burning their produce in protest against low procurement prices, and "discrimination" in categorising the different grades. Officials of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) said that the onion being brought to the market by most farmers was not properly dried.

    Minister for Food and Consumer Affairs Govind Karjol told The Hindu that farmers were at the mercy of an inefficient procurement system.

    Arecanut prices are believed to have crashed because of unrestricted import of commodity.

    The situation has worsened following the announcement that "gukta" will be banned from next year. MLAs Araga Janendra and D.N. Jeevaraj said that last month, the price of "saraku" variety of arecanut had crashed by Rs. 7,000 a quintal in Shimoga, Tirthahalli and Sirsi.

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