The 29th crushing season started at Co-operative Sugar Mill, Budhewal, near here today.The crushing season was inaugurated by Punjab Irrigation Minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon in the presence of sugarcane farmers.While addressing the farmers, Dhillon said that the state government is focussing on crop persification in the state and the government is promoting crops such as sugarcane, maize and others. Dhillon said that for the benefit of sugarcane farmers and sugar mills, the state government has decided to allocate a special grant in the annual budget. The minister asserted that all due payments to the sugarcane farmers have been cleared by the state government and from next year onwards, the payments would be made side by side.He said that it is due to the pro-farmer policies of the state government that Punjab has given more rate per quintal than the centre government. "The centre government had fixed a rate of Rs 220 per quintal but the state government is paying up to Rs 295 per quintal to the farmers. In this season, the Budhewal mill has set a target of crushing 16 lakh quintals of sugarcane," he informed.Harinder Singh Lakhowal, chairman, Co-operative Sugar Mill, Budhewal, informed that all arrangements have been put in place and the sugarcane farmers would not face any problem.Prominent among those present on the occasion included Mr Santa Singh Umedpuri, chairman, Punjab SS Board, Mr Bhag Singh Maangarh, chairman, Zila Parishad, Ludhiana, Mr Ajmer Singh Bhagpur, chairman, Verka Milk Plant, Ludhiana, besides several others.