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PM to meet sugarcane farmers tomorrow to hear them out; tell them government initiative

By Vinod

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet around 150-200 sugarcane farmers from sugarcane producing states not only to hear their problems but also to share the government plans and assistance provided to them. The government recently allocated a package of Rs 8000 crore for sugarcane farmers.

PM to meet sugarcane farmers tomorrow to hear them out; tell them government initiative

Sources said that sugarcane farmers will be accompanied by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, BJP member from Rajya Sabha Vijay Pal Singh Tomar and Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Arun Singh. The PM will interact with the delegation at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg. The delegation will mainly consist of farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka with members of the delegation having no political background. The government's intervention and initiative taken for the sugarcane sector are likely to come up during the meeting.

Actually, sugar industry is dependent on sugarcane that impacts livelihood of over 5 crore farmers and around 5 lakh workers directly employed in sugar mills. Employment is also generated in various ancillary activities like transport, trade, servicing of machinery and supply of agriculture inputs. So it is very important that issues related to people associated with it must be addressed. India is the second-largest producer of sugar in the world after Brazil and is also the largest consumer. Today Indian sugar industry's annual output is worth approximately Rs 80,000 crore.

The recent package of Rs 8,000 crore for sugarcane was to provide relief to sugarcane farmers to clear of their dues. The government also decided a minimum price for sale of sugar at around Rs 29 per kg, with this objective of clearance of sugarcane dues to the farmers. It was also mooted to put in place a mechanism to ensure that the retail prices of sugar are kept fully under control and sufficient supplies are maintained throughout the year.

During the meeting, it might also figure that due to government intervention custom duty on import of sugar has been reduced from 50 per cent to 100 per cent, removal of custom duty on export of sugar, imposition of reverse stock holding limits on sugar mills, allocation of mill-wise Minimum Indicative Export Quota (MIEQ) of 20 LMT and financial assistance at the rate Rs.5.50/quintal of cane crushed has been worked out.

Sources said that a buffer stock will be created to facilitate clearing of cane dues of farmers and also ensure regular supply of sugar in the market by maintaining the demand and supply balance. The cost of creation of the buffer stock, including carrying costs and other incidental charges is estimated to be around Rs 1,200 crore. The package will also include a major scheme worth more than Rs 4,400 crore for increasing the ethanol capacity in the country which will help in diversion of sugarcane for production of ethanol in surplus season to facilitate timely payment of sugarcane dues to the farmers.

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