New Delhi, Jan 21 (PTI) Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawartoday said it will be difficult to decontrol sugar industry asmany state governments, including the country''s second largestproducer Uttar Pradesh, are against freeing this sector.
"We have discussed (the issue of sugar decontrol) withstates. Unfortunately, many states are not ready," Pawar saidin his first media interaction after he was relieved fromthe Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution ministrythat oversees sugar sector.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September 2010 hadasked the Food Ministry to consult states before decontrollingthe sugar sector. The ministry had then proposed doing awaywith controls like monthly sugar quota that mills can sell inthe open market and through ration shops.
"States like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Karnataka are notready for decontrol of the sugar industry, while Gujarat andMaharashtra have expressed their willingness.
"If only three-four states accept, it is difficult toimplement. And Prime Minister had always told that for thiskind of policy, states should be taken into the confidence,"he pointed out.
When asked if the government will put the proposal ofdecontrolling the sector on the backburner, Pawar said, "Youcan''t say for now. If there is more production and prices comedown, they (states) may rethink and accept (it) also".
In August 2010, Pawar had said that the time had come todecontrol the sector, as sugar production in 2010-11 seasonwas expected to be higher than the annual domestic demand andprices had softened from nearly Rs 50 a kg in January 2010.
At present, the sugar industry is under governmentcontrol, right from the level of production to distribution.
Besides, a fixed monthly sales quota for sugar mills, thefactories are required to sell 10 per cent of their output tothe government at cheaper rates for supply to consumers viaration shops.
However, the ministry has held that it would continueto fix the fair and remunerative price (FRP) of sugarcane,which is the minimum rate that mills are required to pay tofarmers.
Sugar production of India, the world''s second largestproducer and biggest consumer, is estimated to rise to 24.5million tonnes in 2010-11 (October-September) from 19 milliontonnes in the previous year.
The domestic demand is pegged at 23 million tonnes, outof which about 60 per cent is used by bulk consumers such assweetmakers and soft-drink manufacturers.