PUNE: Union minister Nitin Gadkari Sunday said surplus production of sugar has become a "big problem" in the country, and suggested the sugar mills to focus on producing ethanol instead of the sweetener.
He also said that there is no water scarcity in the country, but what it lacks is water management. Gadkari was speaking at the 'Sugar Conference 2020', organised by the Maharashtra State Co-op Bank Ltd here.
"Currently, sugar production in the country is surplus, so in reality, there is no profitability in increasing the production of sugar. But there is future in ethanol, so sugar mills should focus on manufacturing ethanol instead of sugar," he said.
He added that the central government has come out with a transparent policy related to ethanol and the Petroleum Ministry is also ready to buy it. In a nutshell, there is a market for ethanol. "The government is doing everything to revive the sugar industry," Gadkari said.
"Rising production cost is a worry before the sugar mill operators. So use of bio-diesel in factories, bio-CNGs in trucks that transport sugar and sugar canes can bring the production cost down," he added.
On the issue of water availability, he said, "There is no water scarcity. What is lacking is proper water management. Extravagant use of water is a crime and that is why there is a need to adopt drip irrigation system in sugarcane cultivation."
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the state government is committed to stand by the sugar mills in the state and will extend all the possible support. "The policy decision by the central government as far as ethanol is concerned is very crucial. To address the issues in obtaining the permissions for ethanol production units, the state government is in the process of starting a single window policy," he said.
"To start this system, a group of ministers will be formed soon," the CM added.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar emphasised that farmers, instead of going for 100 per cent sugar cultivation, should think of cultivating beet as in Europe, beet sugar production is gaining momentum.
He also drew the attention of the government towards the issues of production cost and salaries of employees in sugar mills.
"The sugar industry is facing several problems and there is a need to find solutions to these issues," he added.