Senior Indian NCP leader Sharad Pawar seeks additional export subsidy for ailing sugar industry

Senior NCP leader Sharad Pawar led a delegation to meet Nripendra Mishra, principal secretary to the PM, and called for urgent measures by the Centre to bail out the country’s ailing sugar sector. Prakash Naiknavare, MD, National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories, who was present at the meeting, said maximum sugar needs to be exported to bring stability in prices and the government should double the current subsidy of Rs 55 per tonne.

In the next 18 months, at least 80-90 lakh tonne sugar needs to be exported and the Centre should encourage raw sugar and exports of whites to neighbouring countries. The members also called for restructuring the existing loans of factories, more financial assistance for making cane payments, fixing ethanol rates at Rs 53 per litre and financial assistance to increase capacities for ethanol production.

The delegation also sought a buffer stock of 50 lakh tonne to prevent a further downslide in prices and bring back the release mechanism for a limited period.

The government of India had announced a minimum indicative export quota of 2 million tonnes of sugar on March 28 to reduce excess sugar from the country. Despite government making it mandatory for sugar mills to export as per the quota allocated to individual mills, India has not started sugar exports due to lack of export parity.

India’s sugar production has exceeded 30 million tonnes as Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the top two sugar producing states, are set to have record production.  According to Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), the estimated sugar production in the current season is about 45 per cent higher than last season, said ISMA.

India’s domestic consumption of sugar is pegged at 25 million tonnes for this year.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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