Sugarcane farmers to get more for their produce: Pawar (Lead)

February 23rd, 2009 - 8:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) Concerned over the low sugarcane output expected this year, the government is likely to raise prices, which would mean sugar mill owners would have to pay more for their produce.
“Sugarcane farmers have to get a competitive price, which in turn would encourage them to produce more. They were not paid good money last year. But they would get good money this time,” Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told farmers at the inaugural Monday of a four-day conference organised by the Indian Agriculture Research Institute here.

Sugar output this year is expected to drop to about 18 million tonnes, and Pawar told reporters that it was a concern for the government. “Cane is a concern. Farmers will get a good price. Farmers will like it,” he said.

The minister also emphasised that the country has to become self-reliant in food output and that farmers should strive for adequate production of cereals so that the government does not have to import.

“We have produced rice more than we require. But we imported pulses worth Rs.8,000 crore (Rs.80 billion) and Rs.10,000 crore (Rs.100 billion) worth fertilisers”.

At the same time, he cited the shortfall in land available for farming, and urged farmers to look for alternative sources of income.

“You will have to look at secondary source of earning in your family, where one member could be engaged in farming and another could take up other jobs. This will make you financially stronger,” Pawar told farmers.

He said people engaged in business and industry have grown richer in the past few decades, while the condition of farmers has remained almost unchanged.

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