Sugarcane harvesting has begun in the Paonta sahib valley. Here some farmers have also started grinding units for producing quality 'Gur and Shakkar'. But strangely they have nowhere to sell it at a local level. A market for sugarcane products simply never came up.
The Valley probably is the only sugarcane-producing belt in the state. But farmers rue the government never cared to develop it. While the farmers are sticking to their business, they are definitely sore.
“We have already diversified towards mushroom cultivation, but we still want to maintain the identity of quality Gur and Shakkar, thus we are still producing sugarcane to a little extent,” said Devraj Chaudhary, a farmer in Nichhala Kanshipur village.
Earlier, experts said, the production of the sugarcane in the Valley was above 10 lakh quintals, but today it has declined to just 2-3 lakh quintals.
The agriculture department admits the decline and says around 1500-2000 hectares of land are used sugarcane cultivation.
According to an estimate, only 80,000 quintals of sugarcane are utilized for producing Gur and Shakkar in villages in the Valley, while the remaining lot is supplied to sugar mills in Uttarakhand and Haryana.
The supply to the sugar mill in Doyiwala area of Uttarakhand is simply because Paonta valley has no mill of its own.
Even that has its glitches though. Non-payment of arrears last season by the Doyiwala mill left these farmers disappointed. They have now asked the state government for a local mill to see their produce to.
They have also asked the government for exemption in electricity bills for grinders. The farmers also want the government to offer a support price for sugarcane and its products.
The farmers said they spend 236-250 in producing one quintal of sugarcane, and that they should be paid 50% more than the input cost, as per recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee.