Karnataka farmers protest government apathy over support price for sugarcane

Belagavi: Hundreds of farmers, including the womenfolk, on Sunday staged a protests here against the state government’s alleged indifference over ensuring minimum support price for sugarcane and in getting their arrears released from the mill owners.

“In view of the production glut and falling price, the state government should ensure a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 3,000 per tonne for sugarcane with 9.5 per cent recovery and help us get arrears for the cane supplied to mill owners last year,” farmer leader Siddanna Gouda told reporters here, about 500km northwest of the state.

The previous Congress government had fixed Rs 2,500 per tonne as MSP last year.

With input costs, including harvesting and transporting the cane to the mills going up steeply, Gouda said growing sugarcane was no longer remunerative, as mill owners were unwilling to pay more and settle the arrears.

“We suspended on Saturday our agitation launched on November 15 for higher MSP and recovery of arrears on the assurance of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy that he would meet us here on Monday. But he has now backed out,” alleged Gouda.

As a mark of protest against Kumarswamy cancelling his visit to the city on Monday, about 20 farmers drove trucks laden with sugarcane into the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, which is the state legislative and secretariat building for the region.

“We will disrupt the winter session of the state legislature here next month if the state government does not resolve our issues by November 30, as we cannot keep the cane in the fields longer from harvesting as recovery will be less if delayed,” added Gouda.

The opposition BJP condemned the JD-S-Congress coalition government’s indifference to the plight of the sugarcane farmers in the state.

“The coalition government’s approach to farmers’ plight is reprehensible. Scores of farmers, including their womenfolk, were arrested at Belagavi for staging a protest,” said Karnataka BJP President B.S. Yeddyurappa in Bengaluru.

Mocking at Kumaraswamy and the JD-S for claiming to be a party for farmers, by farmers and of farmers, Yeddyurappa said the former told a woman agitator that he was not responsible for what happened to them over the last four years as he became chief minister only 5 months ago.

Kumaraswami has also cast aspersions on the integrity of the farmers, which is unacceptable.

“By calling farmers ‘goondas’ (goons), Kumaraswamy has indulged in an outrageous act. This shows the contempt his party has for farmers,” added Yeddyurappa.