Sangli (Maha), The sugar industry should diversify its production and focus on ethanol to remain economically viable, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said on Saturday.
He was addressing a gathering at Sangli in western Maharashtra where he welcomed local leader Shivajirao Naik back into the NCP fold after the latter quit the BJP
“We cannot have only sugar production. We should opt for ethanol production. It is a good idea to set up a distillery in sugar factories,” the former Union agriculture minister said.
The Union government too has announced a policy to encourage ethanol production, Pawar added.
Ethanol, a byproduct of sugar mills, can be used to mix with petrol and has several industrial uses. If sugar mills turned to ethanol production, they can fulfill farmer leader Raju Shetti’s demand that factories make one-time payment to sugarcane growers, he further said. “In the case of sugar, it has to be stocked for one year (before it is sold off), and in the meantime loan amount and interest add to the burden. While payment from ethanol sale can be recovered in two months,” Pawar said.
Referring to the famers’ protest on Delhi borders which forced the Union government to scrap the new agriculture laws, Pawar criticized those who dubbed the protesters as “Khalistani.” The Sikh community has contributed not only to farming but also to the Armed Forces and made great sacrifices during the freedom struggle, he said.
“If these people are protesting for their demand and if anyone is questioning their loyalty towards the country, the farmers of this country will not forgive them,” Pawar said. PTI