Cooperative factories must help in ensuring sugar availability: Pawar

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New Delhi, Sep 10(ANI): Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday urged cooperative sugar factories to play a more pro-active role and shoulder the responsibility of importing more raw sugar, not only for better utilization of their processing capacity, but also to fulfill their obligation of providing adequate and affordable sugar to the nation.

Addressing the 50th Annual Meeting of the General Body of National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Ltd. here, Pawar said the government has already taken steps to assist sugar factories to further help sugarcane farmers to improve productivity as well as sucrose content in sugarcane by way of soft loans at four per cent per annum from SDF.

Pawar said that in view of the significant drop in sugarcane production, there isn't for increasing sugarcane producing area immediately. The Central Government has also decided to give a one time short term loan assistance from SDF at four per cent per annum for the purchase of inputs like seed, fertilizers and pesticides.

"The loan given to the sugar factories has to be passed on to the farmers at not more than four per cent interest in cash or kind, before March 31, 2010," Pawar added.

Pawar also requested the delegates to assess their individual capability and capacity to pay during 2009-10 sugar season and give remunerative price to the farmers, keeping in view the long term requirement of sugarcane.

This will encourage them to increase acreage under sugarcane as well as invest more in the sugarcane crop by way of inputs like fertilizers and pesticides, he added.

Pawar further requested the sugar factories to utilize modernization and expansion loans before investing in projects for utilizing the by-products.

The minister also talked about two important aspects -increased availability of sugarcane by way of improvement in productivity as well as recovery of sugar and controlling the cyclical nature of the sugarcane and sugar economy- which need to be addressed not only by the Government, but also by the sugar factories as well as the sugarcane farmers.

Stating that the country is reeling under pressure of high sugar prices along with lack of availability of sugar, not only in the domestic market, but also in the international market, Pawar discussed some unprecedented steps taken by the Government to supplement the domestic production of sugar and also ensure availability of sugar to the more vulnerable sections of the society.

He expressed hope that these steps would not only increase availability of sugar in the market within September, 2009, especially during the festival season, but also have a positive impact in controlling the sugar prices. (ANI)

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