Former Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today threatened that cane growers will come out on the streets to protest if the government takes steps to depress retail sugar prices.
Pawar’s warning comes a day before the scheduled Cabinet meeting to approve a proposal to empower state governments for imposing stock holding limits on sugar in order to curb hoarding and contain retail prices, which are ruling at over Rs 40 per kg.
“Attempts to depress sugar prices will be injustice to cane growers. They will come to streets and agitate,” Pawar told PTI, a day after All India Sugar Traders Association made a presentation before senior officials of Food Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), proposing scrapping of the export subsidy and calling for stock limit of 1,500 tonnes for Kolkata and 750 tonnes for rest of India.
The stock limits on sugar traders were last imposed during 2009-2011.
According to the sources, Consumer Affairs Ministry has moved a Cabinet proposal seeking approval to empower state governments to impose stock holding limits on sugar traders to check hoarding and black marketeering.
Last week, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had asked the state governments to impose stock holding limits on sugar.
Retail sugar prices have been rising since October due to estimates of lower production at 25.6 million tonnes for 2015-16 marketing year (October-September) as against 28.3 million tonnes a year ago.
The prices crossed Rs 40 per kg at the beginning of this month compared with Rs 30 per kg last October. At present, prices are ruling at Rs 45 per kg, according to the government data.
Sugar prices were depressed during 2014-15 marketing year on record production and huge carryover stock that led to sharp rise in cane arrears of about Rs 21,000 crore.
However, the prices have been inching up on expectation of lower output and the government’s order to mandatorily export 3.2 million tonnes in the ongoing marketing year.
Mills have exported only 1.3 million tonnes of sugar so far and are likely to ship 7,00,000 tonnes more by September.
Sugar production fell 8 per cent to 24.3 million tonnes till April 15 of this year.