New Delhi: To provide relief to sugarcane farmers and ensure clearance of their dues, the Central government is going to bring out a comprehensive package of more than Rs 8,000 crore to cover up accumulation of cane arrears of more than Rs 20,000 crore, said informed sources.
The move seems to be part of government's plan to attract farmers ahead of the 2019 general elections.
"The package will include creation of buffer stock of 30 LMT for which the money will be transferred directly to the accounts of the sugarcane farmers. The creation of such a buffer stock will facilitate clearing of cane dues of the farmers and also ensure regular supply of sugar in the market by maintaining the demand and supply balance," said a source.
The cost of creation of the buffer stock, including carrying costs and other incidental charges is estimated to be around Rs 1,200 crore, they said.
According to sources, the package would also include a major scheme worth more than Rs 4,400 crore for increasing the ethanol capacity in the country which will help in diversion of sugarcane for production of ethanol in surplus season to facilitate timely payment of sugarcane dues to the farmers.
"The government is also understood to have decided a minimum price for sale of sugar at around Rs 29 per kg which will help clearance of sugarcane dues to the farmers. At the same time, a mechanism will be put in place to ensure that the retail prices of sugar are kept fully under control and sufficient supplies are maintained throughout the year," said a source.
The sugar industry, whose annual output is worth approximately Rs 80,000 crore, is an important agro-based industry that impacts the livelihood of about five crore sugarcane farmers and around five lakh workers directly employed in sugar mills.
Government data said that sugar season of 2017-18 witnessed highest ever sugar production in the country but the depressed global price of sugar and the surplus domestic production has led to a decline in the market price of sugar leading to accumulation of cane arrears of more than Rs 20,000 crore.