Hyderabad: Is Mr. Sahard Pawar Union Minister for Sugar Industry or Agriculture, the Lok Satta Party caustically asked today.
Mr. Shard Pawar’s missive to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee seeking immediate permission for sugar exports reflected his determination to protect the interests of sugar mill owners, said Lok Satta Party Working President DVVS Varma in a media statement. However, as Union Agriculture Minister Mr. Pawar had ignored the plight of sugarcane growers by not ensuring a remunerative price for their produce. Permission to exports at the fag end of the crushing season might benefit sugar mill owners, but not farmers who could not get a fair price for their produce. At best, exports might help some sugar mills to clear their cane dues to farmers. In Andhra Pradesh, the State Government has not announced even the State Advisory Price for sugarcane.
He demanded that sugar mills benefiting from exports should be made to share their profits with farmers by way of bonus. He also faulted Mr. Pawar for focusing only on export of sugar and not on foodgrains. “He is arguing for sugar exports on the ground that the country is surplus in sugar. Should he not extend the same logic for export of rice?”
He pointed out that the country’s warehouses and farmers’ homes are overflowing with wheat and rice stocks of 60 million tons – double the needs of the country’s requirements, even as bumper rabi harvests are round the corner. He demanded that the Government permit export of at least four million tons of rice.
He recalled that the Government banned export of onions when its price touched Rs.70 a kg. The Government would now not bother when the price of onions has plummeted to Rs.4,50 a kg in the wholesale market. Similarly, the price of tomato has plunged to 50 paise a kg in certain parts of the State.
Mr. Varma wanted the Government to promote storage facilities for food grains and processing facilities for perishable products, impose customs duty on import of edible oil to encourage the indigenous farmer, and compress the number of intermediaries between the producer and the consumer. (NSS)