Don’t Im­port Sugar, There’s Stock to Meet De­mand, Millers tell Govt

The Economic Times - - Finance & Commodities - Jayashree.Bhos­ale @times­group.com

Pune: The gov­ern­ment may not be com­fort­able with sugar prices hov­er­ing around .₹ 40/kg, but the in­dus­try is hell-bent on see­ing that there are no im­ports of the sweet­ener. Im­ports would be dis­as­trous for the in­dus­try and farm­ers, they said.

Even as traders and re­fin­ers are mount­ing pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment to im­port sugar and the gov­ern­ment is try­ing to as­sess the likely fall in pro­duc­tion, sugar millers say they are afraid that im­ports would hit the in­dus­try and farm­ers. The In­dian Sugar Mills As­so­ci­a­tion (ISMA), which rep­re­sents pri­vate sugar millers, has al­ready stated that the coun­try will have suf­fi­cient sugar stocks to take care of its do­mes­tic needs in 2016-17. Sim­i­larly, the All In­dia Ganna Ut­padak San­gath­ana has writ­ten a letter to the prime min­is­ter re­quest­ing the gov­ern­ment not to im­port sugar.

OP Dhanuka, co-or­di­na­tor, All In­dia Ganna Ut­padak San­gath­ana, said, “Over 50 mil­lion cane farm­ers have suf­fered heavy losses be­cause of un­wanted sugar im­ports dur­ing 2013-14 and 2014-15. Sugar mills could not pay cane price and sugar prices went down be­low the cost of cane. We fear that if the im­ports hap­pen, it will kill both farm­ers and the in­dus­try.” Sugar prices are cur­rently at the same level they were seven years ago, but the cost of pro­duc­tion has in­creased, Dhanuka claimed. He said that dur­ing 2017-18 or 2018- 19, the coun­try may even have to ex­port sugar. The Swab­hi­mani Shetkari San­gath­ana, which rep­re­sents cane grow­ers of Ma­ha­rash­tra has also op­posed sugar im­ports. “The gov­ern­ment should com­pel sugar millers to sell in suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ties to keep prices sta­ble. There is suf­fi­cient stock of sugar and plan­ta­tion of sug­ar­cane for the next sea­son is ex­pected to be good. The coun­try doesn’t need to im­port sugar,” said Raju Shetti, founder leader of the San­gath­ana.

Sugar millers are con­cerned that any de­ci­sion to im­port sugar can bring down prices, which can ad­versely af­fect their loan re­pay­ments.

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