An assurance by the state government on protecting their interests made Karnataka sugarcane farmers to suspend their agitation for fair price to their crop and settlement of arrears from mill owners, said an official on Friday.
"The farmers, on an indefinite fast and protest demonstration since November 15 here, have withdrawn the week-long agitation after state Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar assured them of better fair price for 2018-19 crop and payment of dues by mill owners," a district official told IANS.
Though Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy met the farmers and mill owners in back-to-back meetings in Bengaluru on Thursday and Wednesday to resolve the deadlock, the farmers agreed to wait till December first week for securing their demands by giving up the agitation for the time being.
"The Chief Minister's timely intervention and direction to mill owners to pay the fair and remunerative price (FRP) the central government fixed (Rs 2,750 per tonne for this fiscal crop and clear arrears has diffused the crisis," Shivakumar told reporters here, about 500km northwest of Bengaluru.
The six-month-old JD-S-Congress coalition government acted on Monday after the farmers laid a siege to the state legislature building on Sunday over the official apathy to their demands and thwart the opposition BJP from holding a huge rally on December 10 when the winter session of the state legislature is due to begin.
"The mill owners have been firmly told to pay the revised FRP and settle the dues by December 5, failing which action will be taken against them," said Shivakumar.
The 31 sugar mill owners from across the state sought 15 days to settle the dues and pay the revised FRP to the farmers as they were facing cash crunch and glut in production resulting in the wholesale and retail price decline.
"The mill owners said they would pay only the FRP but not for harvesting and transporting the cane to the mills as it was the responsibility of the farmers," the official clarified.
Sugarcane Growers Association President Sidagouda Modgi said the mill owners cumulatively owe about Rs 450 crore in arrears to the farmers since the last two years despite the previous government fixing the FRP at Rs 2,500 per tonne with 11 per cent recovery.