Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has blamed state governments and sugar mills in the country for the current sugar crisis.
“The state government and sugar mills furnished wrong statistics about the sugar production, which led to the hike in the price of sugar,” Pawar said on Sunday.
Addressing the annual general meeting of Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation, an apex body of cooperative sugar mills in the state, Pawar said that state governments and sugar mills first told the Centre in 2008-09 that sugar production in the country was 300 lakh tonnes which was later brought down to 200 lakh tonnes.
“I was doubtful at the stage,” Pawar said adding that total production of sugar in 2008-09 was only 160 lakh tonnes when domestic requirement was 250 lakh tonnes.
Pawar said government was left with no option but to import sugar in the given situation to meet the need in the local market.
“There was less production of sugar and higher demand in the market, which led to the price hike,” Pawar said.
Pawar, however, said the government was taking some decision to give relief to the common man one of which was import of 40 lakh tonnes raw sugar.
“Twenty lakh tonnes of raw sugar has already arrived to reduce the margin in the market and we are sure the situation will be under control,” he said.
Pawar rued the state’s slip to ranking number three in sugar production after being number one for years. “This is not good for Maharashtra,” Pawar warned and added that coordination between farmers and sugar mills was rapidly disappearing because of which land under sugarcane cultivation was diminishing.
“We cannot afford to neglect sugarcane as a crop,” he said.
Pawar complained that several sugar factories were not providing ethanol to the government petroleum firms on time with the hope to get better price from private companies. “This has to be stopped.”