Government expects more cane planting next season

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 1 2009, 04:18am hrs
The Centre on Friday said that sugarcane acreage in the 2009-10 season was expected to rise as farmers received good remunerative returns for their produce. India, the largest sugar producer after Brazil and the biggest consumer of the sweetener in the world, witnessed a nearly 17% dip in cane production to 290.45 million tonne during the 2008-09 crop year (July-June).

Farmers are getting paid more. Obviously they will be a little more interested in sugarcane next season. Cane planting may increase, agriculture secretary T Nanda Kumar said in New Delhi on the sidelines of a seminar.

Farmers in Uttar Pradesh, a leading sugar producing state, are receiving high prices of Rs 140 per quintal for their canes in the current sugar season, starting October. On top of this, some of the sugar mills are paying an additional Rs 15 per quintal for the cane over and above the state advisory price (SAP) of Rs 140, encouraging farmers to plant more in the next season.

The Centre is also considering a major hike in the statutory minimum price (SMP) for sugarcane during the 2009-10 season. The food ministry has suggested that the SMP be fixed at Rs 107.76 per quintal, up from Rs 81.18 in the last season. The SMP is fixed by the Centre keeping in view the cost of production, among other factors, whereas the SAP is determined by each state though it cannot be lower than the price fixed by the Central government.

Asked about the impact of rising temperature on the wheat crop, the secretary said though there was nothing to worry at the moment, the next two weeks held the key. The temperature at night is okay, though its a bit high during the day. Though there is no concern as of now, the next two weeks are crucial. We are sticking to latest estimates, Kumar said.

According to the second advance estimate for 2008-09, released early in February, wheat production is projected at 77.78 million tonne, down marginally from the record of 78.57 million tonne recorded in the last year.