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Pawar targets food, textile ministries

Building pressure on the government to ease export curbs on sugar, cotton and milk, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh complaining about the UPA's "retrograde" steps that made the farmer subsidise the rich.

delhi Updated: Apr 12, 2012 00:09 IST
HT Correspondent

Building pressure on the government to ease export curbs on sugar, cotton and milk, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh complaining about the UPA's "retrograde" steps that made the farmer subsidise the rich.

In his letter to Singh on Tuesday, Pawar pointedly criticised departments under the charge of his colleagues, food minister KV Thomas and textile minister Anand Sharma, for "ambivalent" policies that go against the farmer.

Pawar's letter comes in the backdrop of the decision of a group of ministers on Monday restricting cotton export to 13 million bales for the current marketing year.

"Cotton farmers should not be asked to bear the burden of subsidising textile mills," the minister said, emphasising that the decision compromised the interest of small cotton farmers to benefit textile magnates.

The cotton export restriction has also been opposed by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and the Congress party's Maharashtra and Gujarat units.

High input cost and low realisation from his produce has pushed the farmer into a corner where he fights for his survival.

Turning to the food department, Pawar said "the negativity prevalent in the department regarding sugar exports can best gauged from the fact that though the decision to allow sugar exports of 10 lakh tonnes was taken on March 26, 2012, no orders regarding the same have been issued till date."

Pawar said the PM had agreed with him on the need to have farmer-centric policy during their discussions. "Despite this, our government has time and again taken decision which go against the interest of the farming community and adversely impacts its growth and stability," he wrote.