New Delhi: The Indian government will help cane growers with low-interest loans for seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to improve productivity, but industry officials were worried a particular type of pesticide may reduce sugar recovery.
The use of a certain kind of pesticide had inflated last year’s harvest but reduced sugar recovery, contributing to a sharp fall in output and large imports by the world’s top sugar consumer, sugar industry officials said.
The cane crop has fallen again this year due to weak monsoons, particularly in the top cane-growing state of Uttar Pradesh where the local government has declared a drought in most districts.
The government has said it would take every possible step to help farmers in the country, where nearly two-thirds of the people live in villages and 60% of the farmland depends on rains for irrigation.
“Loans would be disbursed to the sugar factories by 31 December 2009, who in turn, will pass on the loans, in cash or kind, to the cane growers in their area latest by 31 March 2010, at an interest rate not higher than 4% per annum,” it said.
S.L. Gupta, secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Sugar Mills Association, said the government prepares a list of pesticides that farmers can use, and last year, the list contained a pesticide that sharply reduced sugar recovery.
“We have asked the government to remove that pesticide from the approved list,” he said.
Industry officials say the use of proper pesticides and fertilizers is important for the cane crop.
Simbhaoli Sugars executive director G.S.C. Rao said pesticides and fertilizers usually help the cane crop.
“Except in the case of nitrogenous fertilizer, when used in excess during the maturing period.”
In April, the president of a farmers’ lobby group Bharatiya Krishak Samaj said more than a quarter of the sugarcane crop in India’s Uttar Pradesh state was damaged by pests last year because of poor-quality pesticides.