NEW DELHI: A NITI Aayog report has recommended shifting of some areas under sugarcane cultivation to less water-intensive crops by providing a suitable incentive to farmers. The task force, headed by the NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand, has recommended shifting sugarcane farmers to other crops on at least three lakh hectares by paying a remuneration of Rs 6,000 per hectare for alternative cultivation patterns.
The new scheme should be piloted for a three years implementation time, the task force recommended. The task force, which also consists of secretaries of a number of ministries, has recommended that only 85 per cent of the sale slip (purchase of sugarcane) to ensure that the farmers opt for alternative crops on at least 15 per cent of the land.
“The task force recommends a long-term solution that requires a fund of a reasonable size to provide liquidity support to the mills. It is proposed to levy cess on sugar at Rs 50 per quintal for a period of three years, during which about Rs 4,500 crore would be added to the fund,” the report added.
Noting that there is a stark difference in water consumption for growing sugarcane between UP and Maharashtra and South India, the task force recommended that all efforts should be made for the adoption of drip irrigation in place of flood irrigation in Maharashtra and southern states, saying the measure will save almost 40-50 per cent water.