The controversial sugarcane bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday after Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar agreed to “revisit” and “reconsider” the matter if the “interests of farmers are not protected”.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment and Validation) Bill introduces a new sugarcane price regime by replacing the statutory minimum price (SMP) with fair and remunerative price (FRP).
Pawar said previously there was a provision under which the Centre fixed the FRP and states announced the state advisory price. The difference between these was to be paid by the states due to which there were protests in north India and Tamil Nadu.
Following talks with political parties, which pointed out that a uniform price will not do justice, a decision was taken to make no change in the powers of the state to fix the SMP.
However, the state governments will not have to paying the differential price, he said.
Pawar said so far private sugar mills have not fulfilled their responsibility of sharing their profits with the farmers.
To rectify it he said an improvement was made in section 5(a) providing for “upfront inclusion of the profit and risk to the farmer on his cost of production and transport to the mill gate”.
He said the FRP and SMP are benchmarks but the mill owners and famers’ organisations can pay more than the FRP, but they cannot go below the FRP.