New Delhi: Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar said that there is a need for a re-look at the sugar policy for healthy growth of the sector.
“The policy should fully utilize the multifaceted potential of sugarcane, make industry globally competitive, reduce wild fluctuations in production and prices of sugar and contribute to the energy security of the country”, he said while addressing members of Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry.
There is a wide fluctuation in production of sugarcane and sugar over the years, he told the MPs. Compared to last year’s sugar production of 193 lakh tonnes, the production this year is likely to be 227 lakh tonnes or more and with about 44 lakh tonnes of carry-over stocks, the availability would reach 271 lakh tonnes while consumption could not be more than 190 lakh tonnes, he said.
Even after taking into account buffer stock of 48 lakh tonnes, the quantum of surplus comes to 33 lakh tonnes. This surplus needs to be disposed off so that sugar mills are able to pay cane prices to farmers, he said. Such fluctuations in production also make farmers shift to other crops in a cyclical pattern.
“We must break this cycle and ensure that fluctuations in sugarcane and sugar production are eliminated,” Pawar said.
Listing the steps taken by the government to liquidate the surplus stock, the Minister said it resulted in a subsidy burden of about Rs 800 crore. Instead of ad-hoc measures, sustainable solutions must be found to the recurring problems of shortages and surpluses, he said.