New Delhi, Mar 13 (UNI) The government will soon set up five sugar mills in Bihar to make up for the shortage of 60 lakh tonnes sugar for domestic consumption and also announced preparing a National Food Processing Policy to improve the lot of farmers in the country.
In his reply during the Question Hour, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said while the country needed 185 lakh tonnes last year, the production was only 125 lakh tonnes.
Food Processing Minister Subodh Kant Sahai, also replying to a question, said a Vision Document for Ten Years had been prepared to give fillip to food processing industry in the country.
Mr Pawar admitted that due to drought conditions, production of sugarcane in UP and Bihar had gone down, but the government had taken remedial measures. ''My colleague had recently visited Bihar and spoke to the district magistrates, so we have decided to open five new sugar mills in the state,'' he said.
Earlier, the members cutting across party lines, apprised the agriculture minister of various problems the farming community has been facing, like crop destruction because of the spread of piralia in various parts of the country, the wetlands in Kerala, outdated varieties of sugarcane resulting into the fall in production and delay in payments by the sugarmills among other things.
''Indeed, the real problem is that of irrigation facilities and the decline in production,'' Mr Pawar said adding that the sustainable developed crops and the suitable varieties would go a long way in increasing production in the country.
He expressed satisfaction that with the union government's intervention, more than 90 per cent of farmers in Uttar Pradesh had no outstanding arrears now. ''The figures of the current year are encouraging,'' he added.
Mr Sahai claimed that with the 100 per cent FDI in food processing, big players were arriving and the simplification and concessions in taxes would go a long way in helping the farmers.
''This is one of the top priorities of the UPA government now,'' he added.
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