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Sugar & Ethanol Production, Payment of Arrears are Main Focus: Ram Bilas Paswan

The Union Minister of Food and Public Distribution Ram Bilas Paswan held a meeting with Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey on issues like sugar production, outstanding payments arrears of sugarcane farmers, ethanol production, and other related issues.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi

Several issues were discussed in the meeting like reimbursing Rs.1674 crore towards the maintenance of buffer stocks of 40 lakh metric tonnes and to provide an additional Rs. 6268 crore to meet the expenses of exporting 60 lakh metric tonnes of sugar.

It was noted that due to lockdown the demand for sugar had decreased by 10 lakh metric tonnes and which had lead to declining revenues for sugar mills. But with the ease in lockdown, it is expected that around 84 lakh metric tonnes will be sold in the coming 4 months.

The figures for dues paid were also released for the year 2019-20 with Rs. 49,251 crore paid out of a total of 66,934 crores on Fair and Remunerative Price(FRP) basis and only 17,685 crores are pending. On State Advised Price basis Rs. 49,986 crores have been paid out of Rs. 72,065 crores with 22,079 crores pending.

Another issue discussed was encouraging sugar mills to divert excess sugarcane and sugar to fuel-grade ethanol and achieve a 10% blending target by the year 2022. The government last year had passed The Sugarcane (Control) Amendment Order,2019 which allowed sugar factories to covert sugar, sugar syrup, and sugarcane juice directly into ethanol. The idea was to fund 362 sugar mills through Rs.18,643 crore but so far only Rs. 3,148 crore of loans have been sanctioned to 64 mills and only 38 of them have received the loans.

The government plans to create a mechanism involving sugar mills, oil companies, and banks to increase production. Sugar mills having distillation capacity are also encouraged to divert B-heavy molasses and sugar syrup for producing ethanol. The idea is to increase India’s ethanol fuel blending capacity which will bring additional income for the mills and the farmers. Though states like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have not been excited by this scheme as they ponder over its efficacy and it will require a joint vision involving all stakeholders to push this scheme forward.


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