Leaders of Bihar State Sugarcane Producers Kisan Mahasabha affiliated to AIKM said in a press conference on 23 January that dharna protests would be organized in front of the gates of all sugar mills in Bihar on 28 January. The protests will demand fixing of sugarcane price at Rs 400 per quintal in the current session, payment of all arrears, starting of crushing season at Riga Sugar Mill without delay, stopping short-weighing of cane, and other issues pertaining to sugarcane farmers. The press conference was addressed by BSSPKM State convener Sikta MLA Virendra Prasad Gupta and AIKM leaders KD Yadav and Umesh Singh.

The leaders said that sugar cane price for the 2020-21 has not yet been fixed. The cost of diesel, fertilizers, pesticides and essential farm equipment is consistently increasing, as has the cost of cane products like sugar and ethanol. But it is extremely reprehensible that sugarcane price for farmers is yet to be fixed. Our demand is that sugarcane price for the current session should be fixed at Rs 400 per quintal.

They further said that the month of January is about to end but the cane crushing session at the Riga Sugar Mill has not even started. The mill remains shut. As a result 40,000 cane farmers and 700 mill workers are facing a grave livelihood crisis. About 15 lakh quintals of ready sugarcane are standing in the fields, valued at Rs 50 crores. All these crops are getting wasted. Payment of Rs 60 to 70 crores to farmers is still pending. Bank claims on cane prices given through KCC are also around Rs 60 crores. Rs 2.5 crores are pending in dues to mill workers from the management. The situation has become very serious but the Riga Mill has not been started despite protests.

The Honrable High Court has given the verdict on 02-12-19 that compensation should be paid to farmers in Western Champaran and other areas in Northern Bihar due to crop loss because of floods in 2017. But the order has not been complied with and compensation has not been paid.

The sugarcane farmers have demanded :

  1. Riga Sugar Mill should be started without delay in the interest of Riga's 40,000 farmers, 7000 workers and the larger interest of the region, arrears should be paid immediately.
  2. Last year's payments are still pending at the Sasamusa, Gopalganj and Sidhwalia Sugar Mills. Now Riga farmers are being told to supply their cane to these mills. We demand repeal of this diktat and restarting of Riga Sugar Mill.
  3. Sugarcane price for the 2020-21 session should be fixed at Rs 400 per quintal.
  4. Arrears due to farmers should be paid within 14 days, failing which payment with proper interest should be guaranteed.
  5. Last years arrears with interest added should be paid by sugar mills.
  6. The game of classifying varieties of cane as high, general and low quality and fixing lower prices should be stopped. All varieties declared 'low variety' should be declared 'general variety'.
  7. Short-weighing of cane up to 6 to 8% should be ended. Weighing machines (Dharmakanta) controlled by farmers should be arranged from farmers' cess money.
  8. Transparency should be guaranteed in measurement and procurement chalans for cane growing areas.
  9. Procurement chalans are given last of all to small and medium farmers, making it difficult for them to continue sugarcane farming. We demand that their cane should be procured first.