DHARMAPURI: Sugarcane cultivators affiliated with the Subramaniya Siva Cooperative Sugar mill urged the State government to undertake the crushing process earlier than usual due to the increasing labour shortage in the Dharmapuri district.
Subramaniya Siva Cooperative Sugar mill (SSCS) in Harur is one of the two state-run mills in the Dharmapuri district. This mill has a total of 40,350 farmers as stakeholders and so far over 10,500 acres of sugarcane farmers have registered with the SSCS for crushing in December. However, the district is having a severe labour shortage making the labour cost for cutting and planting season extremely expensive. Hence farmers urged the State government to undertake crushing by early November and requested the mills to take up the labour costs for the welfare of the farmers.
Commenting on the matter, SK Annadurai, Treasurer of the All Sugarcane Cultivators Association said, "Usually crushing in the Subramaniya Siva Cooperative Sugarmill starts at the end of December. During this period skilled labourers are in high demand as most of them will migrate to other areas for work."
"The works who are available are also extremely expensive and to cut an acre of cane, farmers have to spend around Rs 12,000. When the cost of planting, tilling and pesticides including, the total cost will come to around Rs 30,000 per acre. Nearly 30% of the profit earned by farmers is lost to labourers. Hence the crushing process should be ahead of schedule," he said. Annadurai also demanded to increase the price of Sugarcane to Rs 4,000 per tonne
P Krishnan, a sugarcane cultivator said, "There are machines introduced to reduce labour cost, but these are usually overbooked. In Dharmapuri small-scale cultivation of sugarcane is high and the machines, which are usually huge in size, are unable to access these farms. So the mill must take up the cost of labour." "This year the South West monsoon provided abundant rainfall and boosted the cultivation. Over 3,80,000 tonnes of sugarcane are expected to be ground. So beginning the process early will be more beneficial."
When contacted, the officials of Sugarmill said they cannot comment on the matter as these are decisions the Tamil Nadu government should take.