Farmers body pitches for decontrol of sugar sector, seeks Akhileshs support

Written by Deepa Jainani | Lucknow | Updated: Jun 30 2012, 06:40am hrs
In what could help the Centre take a firm stand on decontrol of the sugar sector, the Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations (CIFA), a representative body of farmers in the country, has demanded liberalisation of the sector.

The group, headed by its secretary general, P Chengal Reddy, met Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and requested him to extend his governments support to liberalisation and also persuade Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to announce the sugar liberalisation policy by October.

The CM gave us his in-principle approval for decontrol of the sugar sector, but said some nitty-gritty needed to be looked into. We are very optimistic that we will get his support, which will go a long way in opening up the sector, as UP is the largest cane producing state and the second-largest sugar producing state in the country, said Reddy.

Liberalisation came to India two decades back. But unfortunately, it bypassed the agricultural sector.

Controls and restrictions on the sugar sector by successive governments have hampered growth.

Agriculture is no longer a cultural activity but an enterprise. We need the best technologies available, huge investments, mechanisation and market linkages. If these are put in place, farming will become sustainable in India, Reddy told FE.

If these measures are employed, sugar factories in UP will, in two years, produce over 2000 mw electricity. Production of sugarcane, too ,will increase from 60 mt at present to 80 mt per hectare, he said, adding that mechanisation will also allow timely operations and solve labour shortage.

Talking about the benefits that the farmers shall reap, Reddy said after liberalisation, they will be eligible for a 70-75% share in the revenue generated by sugar factories.

The chief minister, on his part, assured the delegation that the state government will take necessary decisions for welfare of farmers.

The government is serious on the use of advanced technology, attracting investment, ensuring proper marketing and providing remunerative prices to farmers for their crops, Yadav said. Through introduction of better technology, recycling of residual waste from crushing, ethanol and the power generation, efforts would be made to help the farmers and also generate new employment opportunities. In the next two years, the government will make efforts to produce electricity from sugar mills and try to ensure that this power generation benefits the needs of the countryside, he said.

He also said the state government was considering liberal policies for the benefit of cane-growing farmers of the state and to enable cane farmers and the sugar industry to grow together and contribute to all-round development of the state.

The CM assured that suggestions made by the body for setting up a UP State Agriculture Commission, increasing investment in agriculture and use of bio-technology to counter diseases and pests, cultivating better variety fruits and vegetables, better storage facilities and support to foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail would be studied on a priority basis.