Sugarcane farmers’ interest to be protected: Pawar

Sugarcane farmers’ interest to be protected: Pawar

New Delhi: Food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said on Friday that the Centre and states together would take appropriate steps to ensure that sugarcane farmers got the right price for their produce in the current sugar year ending September, 2011.

“Whatever steps we need to take to ensure that the farmers get the right price, we will take, in association with the state governments," Pawar told reporters in New Delhi.

Pawar’s statement assumes importance, as farmers are apprehensive of sugar cane prices falling in the backdrop of an anticipated bumper production.

Cane production in the country is expected to go up by 16 % in the current sugar year to 324.9 million tonnes against 277 million tonnes last year.

While an increase in sugarcane output would provide a respite to the consumers, who had to dole out Rs50 for one kg sugar in January this year, it might affect cane growers earnings who may get lower than the expected price for their produce.

The minister, however, added that the government would like to strike a balance to safeguard the interests of both, the sugarcane farmers and the consumers alike.

“If you want sugar at Rs40-50 a kg, farmers will get better price. Hence, we have to take a balanced approach. The interest of the consumers and farmers have to be protected," Pawar said, adding that at least one factory in Maharashtra had announced better price than last year.

Meanwhile, retail sugar prices have declined by 40 % since mid-January to Rs30 per kg in Delhi. The ex-mill prices are below Rs25 per kg.

India had produced 19 million kgs of sugar in 2009-10 sugar year. On the back of higher sugarcane acreage, the production is likely to go up to over 26 million kgs.