Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) and National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Ltd. (NFCSF) have welcomed the steps being taken by the Government of India to help resolve the problems being faced by the sugarcane farmers and the sugar industry and to help them come out of the current financial crisis.
In a joint statement issued in New Delhi by A Vellayan, President, ISMA and Kallappa Awade, President, NFCSF said that the recent steps of the Government, which include increasing the demand for fuel ethanol to target for 10 percent blending with petrol, ensuring that the banks sanction and disburse the soft loan quickly, assisting the industry in their export initiative to achieve 4 million tons of sugar exports during 2015-16, should help in improving liquidity and in ensuring that sugar mills are better prepared to pay cane price to the farmers next sugar season.
“ISMA and NFCSF would like to confirm that they would take necessary steps to ensure that maximum sugar exports take place in the next season. As a step in that direction, the private and cooperative sugar mills have jointly decided to start sugar exports through the sugar industry body, Indian Sugar Exim Corporation (ISEC), run by the two apex associations,” they said.
It is hoped that this will kick start the export programme and, in turn, will help improve sentiments in the domestic market. ISMA and NFCSF Ltd. are working shoulder to shoulder with the Government in solving the current crisis of the sugar industry and is not supporting any negative campaigns against the Government.
Farmers prefer sugarcane mainly because of two reasons. First, it is a sturdy crop which can withstand unseasonal rains, hailstorms, pests and insects, among other things. Second, it provides assured income for the farmers as sugar factories are mandated to pay the farmers as per the fair and remunerative price declared by the government.
Each sugar factory, irrespective of whether it belongs to the private or cooperative sector, is given exclusive rights to buy sugarcane in a 15km radius of their factory and this is known as zoning in sugar industry parlance.
The government was making efforts to revamp its agricultural extension service and invest in the research and development of new varieties of these crops to increase their productivity. The government was also expected to come up with policies which will encourage agro-processing industry in rural areas to encourage establishment of mills in such areas.
It is also recommended that the government should make drip irrigation mandatory for sugarcane farming. Drip irrigation reduces water consumption by around 60 percent and also increases productivity.