Gadkari’s advice to sugarcane farmers in Sangli gets experts’ nod
Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari’s advice to farmers that they should stop cultivating sugarcane or look for ethanol production rather than sugar from their produce received support from experts while farmer leaders opposed it.
While addressing sugarcane growers in Sangli on Sunday, Gadkari discouraged farmers from taking to cane production saying that the sugar prices across the world have gone down while in India, government is forced to offer subsidy on the produce. Gadkari said that the prices of sugar in the international market stood at ₹19 per kg but in India, government has fair and remunerative price ( FRP) based on the price of ₹34 per kg.
Gadkari also insisted that the government should not give permission for new sugar factories as there is excess sugar when compared to consumption.
According to Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), in 2016-17 India produced 3,036 lakh tonnes of sugar against 240 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of consumption. Similarly in 2015-16, production of sugar in India stood at 3,369 lakh tonnes against 251 lakh MT of consumption of India. As far as 2014-15 is concerned, India produced 3,668 lakh tonnes of sugar and against 283 lakh MT of consumption.
In India, Uttar Pradesh is the largest sugar producing state followed by Maharashtra.
Shekhar Gaikwad, Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner said,“State government has already taken the decision of not giving permission for new factories. We have 50 lakh tonnes of sugar stocked from last year’s production. So, what Gadkari said is right. This stock will go on increasing year on year.”
The state produced 10.70 lakh MT during 2017-2018 and 420 lakh MT in 2016-2017.
Raju Shetti, president, Swabhimani Shetkari Saghtana expressed disappointment over Gadkari’s statement. “Instead of cancelling permission for the new sugar industry, government should think about why farmers are moving towards cane farming? Government should implement equal crop policy for all crops. Also, government can sell the sugar stocked in the international market before starting of the season,” said Shetti.
Shetti added that to stop granting permission for the new industry is not a solution of the problem.