Centre must step in as sugar sector faces low prices: Pawar

Mumbai: NCP president Sharad Pawar today said there was a difference of Rs 700 in the per-tonne cost of sugar production and the market price, and the Centre should intervene to bridge the gap.

Sharad Pawar
NCP chief Sharad Pawar. File pic

Addressing a press conference here, Pawar also demanded that the subsidy on sugar export should be restarted.

He lamented the attack on sugar commissioner's office in Pune by workers of Swabhimani Shetakari Sanghatna over demand of fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane farmers, but said the demand itself was valid.

"There has been no help from the Centre to the sugarcane farmers so far and demand for implementation of FRP is not wrong," Pawar said.

Prices of sugar were at all-time low globally as well in India, the former union agriculture minister noted.

"During the UPA regime when such a situation arose we created a buffer stock of sugar till the market situation improved. Soft loans were provided to pay the excise duty on sugar and we also paid the farmers more than the FRP," he said.

"There would be a moratorium on loan repayment. After which the sugar mills had to repay the loan in three years.

The Central government would pay the interest from the excise duty paid by the sugar mills," he added, recalling the measures taken during the UPA regime.

He also took a dig at Maharashtra government's warning that action would be taken against the sugar factories if they did not pay farmers' dues.

"Co-operation minister Chandrakant Patil is from Kolhapur, a sugarcane production centre, so he is veryknowledgeable on how to resolve such issues," Pawar said.

Fifty per cent of the sugarcane crop was yet to be crushed and the standing crop should be crushed at the earliest, he said. "Sugarcane factories must be operational," he stressed.

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