Gadkari to farmers: Diversify agriculture

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Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Saturday suggested to farmers to reduce production of sugar and diversify agriculture towards energy and power sectors.

“While 65-70 per cent of our population depends on agriculture, our agricultural growth rate is 12-13 per cent only. The sugarcane industry and farmers are a growth engine for our industry, ” he said.

“And the next move should be cogeneration to increase revenue from sugar. The industry should produce less sugar and produce more byproducts, embracing the vision for futuristic technologies and using the power of leadership to convert knowledge into wealth,” he said at the National Cogeneration Awards event.

This will enable the farmers to become not only food growers, but energy producers as well, he said.

“While our requirement was 280 lakh tonnes of sugar this year, the production was more than 360 lakh tonnes. This could be utilised due to the situation in Brazil. However, we need to divert production towards ethanol as the ethanol requirement is very high,” the Minister said.

“Last year’s capacity was 400 crore litres of ethanol; we have taken a lot of initiatives to increase ethanol production. Now is the time for the industry to plan demand for ethanol, using technologies such as power generators run by bioethanol,” he said.

Stating that the sugar industry faces many problems, Gadkari said there was a need for rationalisation of power purchase rates.

“Some states are not giving rates as per central government policy, this is one reason why the sugarcane industry is not economically viable,” he said, and asked the industry to raise the matter at appropriate forums.

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