Mumbai: Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar says a sugar levy price hike is imminent and the government is working on the modalities. Output of the sweetener has been cut in half because of poor rains last year. “The price is being calculated... Also, the transportation cost, among others, needs to be taken into account.” Edited excerpts:
Efforts on: Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar says the industry is ready to provide sugar at a cheaper rate than the market rate. Vijay Kumar Joshi / PTI
When will the (sugar) situation improve?
I cannot say if the situation will improve in no time, because it is a crop that takes at least 12-14 months. But our efforts are on. For instance, I have had three meetings with the sugar industry and their associations to discus the issue. I am requesting that they should give me additional quantum for levy, which I will be able to make available in the Public Distribution System (PDS) from them. At least for the festivals, I will be able to make a little more sugar available for the poor sections of the society at a reasonable rate.
What exactly are you asking and why is it (the meetings) remain inconclusive?
Fortunately, the industry has accepted our suggestion and it is ready to cooperate. They are ready to provide sugar at a cheaper rate than market rate. Now, we are just discussing the mechanism, how to collect and send, because the sugar factories are in different parts.
At the moment, they (the industry) give you the quota sugar or the PDS sugar at Rs13. Are you asking them to give it at a lower price? Are they asking that you pay a higher price for that sugar?
The price of Rs13 has been there for the last five years. Prices of sugar cane in the last five years have increased. When the government finalizes the price of levy sugar, it has to consider the prices actually paid to the farmer by the industry and the price decided by the state government, which is called state advisory price (SAP). So now, levy price, which was always cheaper...that will not be the situation. So we have to see to it that the Supreme Court’s judgement is implemented. This price is on the basis of the price of the sugar cane which the farmers got from the sugar mills, which is definitely higher than what it was about five years ago.
What is the likely levy price that you will have to pay the sugar companies?
We are calculating that because it is different from area to area. It depends on recovery and distance from farm to sugar mill.