MYSURU: The double whammy of scanty rainfall and non-payment of cane dues has forced a majority of farmers to give up sugarcane cultivation in the Cauvery basin.
With no sign of good rain or increase in water level in reservoirs, the farmers anticipate water shortage. The delay in making payments by sugar factories and the state government’s failure to fix state advised price for sugarcane have added to their woes.
The state has 67 sugar factories that need 5 crore tonnes of sugarcane - Mysuru, Mandya and Chamarajnagar alone have seven sugar factories. The sugarcane production in the state which was 4.40 crore tonnes during 2013-14 and 3.60 crore during 2014-15, may go down to less than 3 crore tonnes this season. Sources said sugarcane cultivation area has come down in Belagavi and Bagalkot region too.
The Irrigation Consultative Committee meetings held at KRS and Kabini achukat have decided to release water from the reservoirs, asking farmers to grow semi-dry crops. This has further shattered the hopes of sugarcane growers who began cultivating paddy in the past 10 days. Though a few private sugar factories have volunteered to encourage farmers to grow sugarcane and offered crop loans, the farmers who had bitter experience with the factories, are not keen on growing sugarcane.
They say there will not be water to save their crops. A dip in sugarcane production will further delay the opening of MySugar factory in Mandya that has been closed for the past two years for renovation.
Gopal of Allagere in Mandya said sugar prices will further shoot up in the coming months as there will be a fall in sugar production. He said as there is not much water in KRS, farmers have decided to stick to paddy cultivation. State Sugarcane Growers Association president Kurbur Shanthakumar admitted there is a decline in the area of sugarcane cultivation in the state, particularly in Cauvery basin.
He said the Association that has held a series of agitations to get arrears of farmers has declared crop holiday this year.
“We are educating farmers not to grow sugarcane due to increase in the cost of cultivation. They suffered losses due to various factors. I am happy the farmers have understood it,” he added.
It is unfortunate the state government that failed to fix SAP for sugarcane for last year and help them get `470 crore arrears has given licences to 22 factories, he said.
Srinath, a cane grower, said the government’s failure to fix SAP and get their dues cleared have made them to set up their own jaggery units to crush cane and make best quality jaggery that will be in high demand in the coming days.