Cane growers to meet Goa CM on Friday over-harvesting rates

Panaji: A group of farmers sitting on hunger strike outside a state-run sugar factory in Goa over the demand for better harvesting rates for the crop called off the agitation after Chief Minister Pramod Sawant agreed to look into their grievances.

Sugarcane growers began an indefinite hunger strike on Wednesday in front of the Sanjivani Sugar Factory at Usgao village in North Goa district, but later withdrew it.

Sawant has called them for a meeting on Friday to address their grievances, state Cooperation Minister Govind Gawade said on Thursday.

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Goa Sugarcane Farmers Association vice chairman Harshad Prabhudesai said around 40,000 metric tonne sugarcane would be harvested this year as compared to 32,000 metric tonne last year.

Harvesting is taken up in the month of November.

Prabhudesai said the chief minister had assured in January that harvesting prices would be increased, but the assurance was not followed up with proper action, hence the farmers were agitating.

“We also want to know what is the fate of Sanjivani Sugar Factory, as it is the only facility in the state where we can take our produce for processing, he said.

Gawade said the state government is sensitive towards the demands of the sugarcane farmers.

“We have offered them a hike in the sugarcane harvesting price from the existing Rs 200 per tonne to Rs 600 per tonne. The file was pending with the state government which will be cleared now and funds would be released by August 7, he said.

Gawade also noted that the sugarcane growers are concerned about the fate of the Sanjivani Sugarcane factory, which has stopped functioning since last year.

We are already taking call on it. We have to decide how to restart the factory which has been incurring heavy losses, he said.

Last year, the Goa government procured sugarcane from farmers and sent it to Karnataka for processing.

“This year too, we will send it to Karnataka for processing , the minister said.

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