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Before the election code of conduct comes into force, the government of Maharashtra has given the green signal for formation of the Maharashtra Sugarcane Control Board. “The board has been approved by the committee of ministers and now awaits final approval from CM Prithviraj Chavan,” said Harshavardhan Patil, minister for cooperation and parliamentary affairs.
The government hopes the measure will put a stop to farmer stirs, common in the state before the start of any crushing season. Already some farmer bodies have threatened to stop operations at the start of the October season unless they get a good price.
The 15-member board, to be headed by the chief secretary, will comprise secretaries from ministries and representatives from sugar mills and farmer organisations, and will link cane prices to income of sugar factories, thus deciding cane payment in line with the recommendations of the Rangarajan Committee, the minister said on Monday.
Rajgopal Devera, state secretary for cooperation, said once the CM gives his approval and the final notification comes (which will take around 10 days), the first meeting of the board will be held soon.The board is expected to meet at least three times a year.
The cane board will decide the sugarcane price payable to farmers which shall be in addition to the Fair and Remunerative Price ( FRP) decided by the Centre on a revenue sharing basis. The sugarcane price shall be arrived at as a sum equal to 75% of the ex-mill value of sugar along with such by-products. The dues of sugarcane fixed by the board shall be paid in two steps. The first would be payment of FRP. The balance will be paid subsequent to publication of half yearly ex-mill prices and values, determined by the board.
The board has come into existence after a Bill was passed in December last year at Nagpur. At present, the Centre issues an FRP which is the minimum price the factories have to pay cane growers.
Under the new law, factories will be liable to pay the FRP as minimum price towards first installment as soon as cane is supplied during a season. Maharashtra has around 202 registered cooperative sugar factories and over 65 private factories. The state contributes 35.3% of the national sugar output followed by UP (23.7%). Maharashtra tops in sugar production as well as recovery.
Patil said the mills in the state will begin crushing from