Ponda: After nearly a month-long anxious wait, the sugarcane farmers can finally heave a sigh of relief as the Sanjeevani Sugar Factory likely to start the crushing season on December 8.
All preparations are in full swing to start the crushing season: the machinery and boilers are being made operational; and the officials even performed pooja of weighbridge.
Around 1200 farmers cultivate sugarcane and they were under severe fear of suffering huge financial loss due to the delay in starting the crushing season. And with the crushing season likely to start on December 8, some farmers have already started harvesting sugarcane.
The farmers now hope that the crushing season runs smoothly for 100 to 120 days without breakdown of the machinery. Though the factory is turning into a white elephant due to heavy losses every year, it is the source of livelihood for over 1200 farmers.
The news of starting the crushing season next week was confirmed by Sanjeevani Sugarcane Farmers Association President Rajendra Desai.
He said that staring the season on December 8 has come as a big relief to farmers. He also informed that the factory officials on Monday directed the farmers across the State to start harvesting the sugarcane from Tuesday; and accordingly, the farmers have begun the work and even started sending sugarcane to the factory.
Sources said that Sanguem farmers have already harvested around 28 tonnes of sugarcane and sent it in trucks which would reach the factory by late night.
Farmers say that it is now the responsibility of the government to run the crushing season uninterrupted. “The machinery is over 40 years old; hence, it often breaks down during crushing season. But, we will harvest our sugarcane and dump it in the factory premises,” a farmer said.
Last season, crushing was interrupted for nearly a month after machinery broke down.
It is learnt that the factory needs around 1200 metric tonnes of sugarcane in advance to start and continue the crushing season. And to meet the demand, the farmers have engaged large number of workers from Maharashtra and Karnataka for cutting sugarcane.
Sanjeevani Sugar Factory officials said that though the government had earlier assured to commence the crushing season on December 5, it could not do so due to technical snags. They suggested that though efforts are being made to commence crushing on December 8, it might be delayed by few more days.
The officials said that the exact date of starting the crushing season would be known on Wednesday, after inspecting all the preparations including the sugarcane supplied by the farmers. [H]