In “As sugarcane acreage and production dips by half in TN, a farmer offers his diagnosis”, farmer Barani discussed the problems faced by sugarcane farmers and sugar factories in Tamil Nadu. With data, the article showed that sugarcane production had dipped by half in Tamil Nadu in recent years.
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the issue with BJP state leader Vanathi Srinivasan, Union ministers Pon Radhakrishnan and Nirmala Sitharaman, as well as others. “Over the last four years, severe drought had deeply impacted sugarcane farmers. I had taken up this issue with senior leaders including defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman who arranged a meeting with the Prime Minister,” said Vanathi Srinivasan.
She said that she told the Prime Minister that sugar factories were in trouble since they were getting less sugarcane and had even sold some of their assets. She had asked that their loan repayment schedules be relaxed.
There is a mandate that 20% of the sugar produced should be exported. Vanathi Srinivasan asked whether there could be some relaxation in that also. In the absence of sugarcane coming in, the sugar factories could produce ethanol, for which molasses can be brought from Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, she suggested.
Special effort should be made to collect all the Jan Dhan accounts of sugarcane farmers in the state so that direct deposits of subsidies can be made. “The Prime Minister patiently listened to all our demands and said he will do his best to help Tamil Nadu sugarcane farmers,” she said. She denied that there was any attempt to gain politically since the BJP was particular about getting the votes of Jats in UP who were largely sugarcane farmers. “I only spoke for Tamil Nadu farmers,” she said.
Sugarcane farmers say if sugar factories in Tamil Nadu get a tax holiday for three years, it is possible to restore their health.