Express News Service
VILLUPURAM: Several cane farmers in Villupuram are looking forward to the happiest Pongal in last five years, after private mills paid off all the pending Fair Remunerative Price (FRP), early in December, 2021 and the recent monsoon favouring cultivation.
At least 10,000 farmers in the region were affected due to non-payment of FRP by the mills, in the last five years and that led to 50 per cent of total cane farmers shift crops in the year of 2020. Until then, sugarcane was the major crop cultivated in Villupuram. Farmers shifted from cultivating cane to paddy, pulses, peas, flowers and millets.
“Back then, it was extremely difficult to run the family and local usury was also increasing. Now, with the FRP duly paid to us, we will celebrate a stress-free Pongal,” said G Kaliyamoorthy (62), a farmer from Villupuram. Sources from the private mills blamed the lockdown for overall decline in revenue and delay in settlement of FRP to the farmers. After several protests staged by the farmers in Villupuram and at the Sugar Commission in Chennai, the private mills paid off the farmers in December, said officials.
According to All Farmers Association in Villupuram, farmers from over 12,000 hectares of agricultural land who shifted to other crops returned back to sugarcane production this January. Further, about 50 hectares of cane crops damaged during the recent monsoon will be provided compensation by the state government at the earliest, said official sources from the district agricultural department. AFA General Secretary G Kalivardhan (65) said, “Once thought to never cultivate cane again, the farmers changed their mind after their woes were resolved. Financially, the cane farmers are more than happy.”