ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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COVID-19 and the Sugar Cane Cutter Migrants of Maharashtra

There is an urgent need to issue a policy resolution to ensure the social security and safety of sugar cane migrant labourers in the light of Covid-19 crisis. A failure to do so would lead to an absurd situation for the state, sugar industry, farmers and, more so, for the migrant labour.


Maharashtra is the second lar­gest producer of sugar (from sugar cane) in India after Uttar Pradesh (UP) (Sugar Diary 2020a). Aro­und 2.5 crore farmers (all classes) grow sugar cane in Maharashtra and it is the major source of livelihood for them. The revenue receipt from sugar for the Government of Maharashtra comes to more than `2,000 crore annually. In 2020, as per the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) the net area under sugar in Mah­arashtra has gone up by 43%, that is, it would be appro­xi­mately 11.12 lakh hectares (Jadhav 2020). The sugar factory employs around eight to 10 lakh migrant labourers for mowing sugar cane and trans­porting to factories as this is not undertaken by the cane growing farmers. In the light of this situation it is imp­ortant that provisions must be taken to tackle the present COVID-19 crisis so that the sugar economy functions uninterrupted. The migrant labourer is the backbone of the sugar economy. It would not be erroneous to say that sugar industry is depen­dent on the migrant

labourer for sugar production. If the labourer is not hired, then it would not only cripple the sugar economy but it would have adverse consequences for the entire industry.

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Updated On : 3rd May, 2021
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