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HomeIndustry & UpdatesSugarcane farmers in Telangana's Zaheerabad caught between devil & deep sea

Sugarcane farmers in Telangana’s Zaheerabad caught between devil & deep sea

HYDERABAD: The sugarcane farmers of Zaheerabad have been protesting and taking out rallies for the past few days demanding that Trident Sugars Ltd, which was closed last year, to be reopened for pressing sugarcane season which starts in November.

According to Kondal Reddy, a sugarcane farmer from Zaheerabad, the management of Trident Sugars has not been paying farmers or the workers for the last years, resulting in closure of the factory. The management claimed that factory has run into huge losses, leading to its closure under the aegis of the district administration. “The factory which was started by the efforts of former legislator late Baga Reddy was privatised when N Chandrababu Naidu was the Chief Minister of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. Since then, the ownership kept changing hands and got reduced to a mere business entity used as a real estate property, whose value kept going up and ownership kept changing hands,” he said.

This is not the first time that Trident Sugars has been in the news for wrong reasons. Every harvesting season, issue of non-payment to farmers keeps cropping up and every time the district administration intervenes to find an amicable solution. Last year, farmers from Zaheerabad and neighbouring mandals decided against cultivating sugarcane on a large-scale and those who did, sold their produce at Ganapathi Sugar Industries Ltd in Sangareddy, by bearing their own transportation costs.

N Rathnaiah was one such farmer, who couldn’t afford to pay for labour or for transportation of his produce. He had no option but to sell his produce to middlemen who procured the produce from his farm at `2,000 per tonne, though the actual price offered by the factory was between `3,200 to `3,500 last year. This year, he has grown sugarcane once again at his 1.5 acre land and is still not sure where to sell it as transporting to both Ganesh Sugars in Sangareddy and Margi in Kamareddy comes with a risk of transportation costs shooting up. There is also uncertainty over produce being accepted by those factories, which would have already got into agreement with local farmers who have been annually coming with their produce.

This is where the middlemen enter, make agreements, attain prominence and make the actual farmers from Zaheerabad their hidden subsidiaries. Of course, the little which they pay the farmers, they do it on time, the reason why farmers have no option but to be contended. It is believed that this year, sugarcane was grown in more than 20,000 acres in Zaheerabad revenue division. Farmers from Zaheerabad have been raising the issue of opening Trident Sugars for pressing, but there hasn’t been any development on that front. Even if the company changes ownership, the farmers feel that it would still be beneficial to them, as the new management would be expected to run the company efficiently. But without any progress on that front, farmers are worried that their produce many not make it to pressing this season.

Middlemen menace
Apart from having to pay exorbitant amounts for transporting the crop, the ryots also have to deal with the uncertainty over produce being accepted by factories in other places. Then, they are left with no other option but to face the prospect of being exploited by middlemen

The above news was originally posted on www.newindianexpress.com

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