Tuesday October 24, 2017
Home India Ebbing sugar ...

Ebbing sugar rush: The fall of Indian sugar industry

0
553

By Gaurav Sharma

The world’s largest sugarcane producing nation and the second largest sugar producer after Cuba stares itself in the pit of a downward spiral, a debacle of its own making. Unlike common distresses facing other sectors of the food economy such as crop failure owing to climatic factors and poor irrigation facilities, the sugar industry ails from a mix of market related problems.

2015-08-20_2027_001

Factor this: Almost 90 per cent of the sugarcane producing regions in the country are well irrigated as compared to less than 50 per cent of the land in other cash crop growing regions.

Yet cane arrears have crossed the Rs 20,000 crore mark. The highest arrears have been reported from the traditional output leaders Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, followed by Karnataka, Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

The plight of farmers

Farmers have begun taking the suicide route to end their misery. Here Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka lead the gory way. According to Indian Express, this year itself there have been 294 incidents of farmer suicides in Karnataka, including the most fertile region of Mandya-Mysore belt.

One reason for the farmers resorting to the last resort of suicide is the time and effort sugarcane takes to mature.

Still farmers remain persistent in growing the crop mainly due its inherent strength and easy accessibility to irrigation facilities. The known enemies of a crop such as hail, frost, fire, jangli soar (wild boar) are but a passing phenomena for sugarcane and are unable to shake its sturdy foundation.

And yet the sugar industry is on a downward spiral.

2015-08-20_2027

Reason behind this downfall

The main reason behind the fall-down of the sugar industry is the failure to keep the supply in line with the demand. Last year, India outran its production output in comparison to domestic consumption demand. The following year is also expected to result in a record sugar output.

Due to unhindered overproduction, domestic sugar prices have dropped to Rs 22 per kg in Uttar Pradesh and Rs 19 in Maharashtra. Mills do not have the capacity to pay either the Centre or the state at fair remunerative prices. Arrears to farmers have soared.

When domestic demand slips, it is a natural response by the country to look at foreign avenues as prospective markets. But this is where the government finds itself in a catch-22 situation. Global sugar prices have plummeted to record lows.

Is the government doing anything about it?

The government had a small window of opportunity earlier this year, but it squandered the chance to fill its coffers. The Rs 4,000 crore corpus announced by the government as export subsidy was announced much after the season began and therefore, consignments could not be shipped out.

This is not to suggest that the state government is short of cash on its hands. The bi-product of sugarcane, alcohol, alone fetches about Rs 120 on a 750ml bottle of country liquor in Uttar Pradesh. Considering that from every tonne of sugarcane about 45 kg of molasses (from which ethanol is produced) is produced, it can be verily testified that the state coffers are well and flourishing.

2015-08-20_2022

To preserve government’s monopoly over desi daaru, each mill is forced to reserve at least 15 percent of the molasses output for the liquor business.

This makes it all the more astonishing why the government, in spite of being cash surplus, has chosen to be mute observer to the cataclysm facing the sugar industry. Have the state officials become so callous so as to turn a blind eye to the plight of the farmers? Is there a solution in hand or is the decline in sugar prices a free falling abyss?

According to official data, the outlook for September 2015 sugarcane outlay is expected to touch around 9 million tonnes, exceeding the consumption demand by 3-4 tonnes.

Earlier the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) had suggested that the government should buy the 3 million tonnes as buffer stock. But it has now emerged that the government has other plans up its sleeve; to barter the surplus produce with other nations. The primary target identified for exports is Indonesia though other names such as Australia, Canada and Middle-East nations have also propped up among the prospective export destinations.

However, even if the government is able to strike such a remarkable deal, at current prices it would fetch anywhere between Rs 8,000—Rs 10,000 crore, less than half the amount of total sugar arrears. Going by the thick of things, it can be at most a win-lose bargain for India. (The possibility of a win-win exchange is now passé)

Is there any hope left?

The only viable alternative for stemming the deflationary flow of sugar price is to allow the sugar mills to produce molasses freely without government caps and other restrictions. At the same time, production of sugar has to be brought down in line with the demand. This calls for a calibrated approach whereby the two measures are undertaken in tandem.

The country finds itself at a historic setting. To stall the already escalating crisis, a more proactive approach is required, one that aims to prune the arrears and gradually transform it back into a profit generating industry.

Next Story

Sweet Tooth? Curb your Sugar Cravings with 7 Simple Steps!

0
28
Sugar Cravings
Sugar causes glucose spike and ultimate crash. Wikimedia
  • It takes incredible determination hard to get over sugar cravings
  • With these seven steps and some willpower, it is possible to curb sugar cravings
  • These steps will make sure that you are able to fight the urge

July 31, 2017: Fighting your sugar cravings is one of the toughest parts of a fit and healthy well-being. Any one who has tried a sugar-free diet knows the truth to that statement. Like a drug, the first few days feel good only to result in heightened urge after days.

Sugar and carbs are not suitable for the human body in large frequent consumptions. At the same time, it is tough. But with these seven steps to fight your sugar cravings, the dependency on willpower will reduce.

ALSO READ: List of 8 Food Items to Battle Depression and Anxiety

  • CLEAN YOUR KITCHEN:
The most straightforward solution. Getting rid of sugar from your kitchen and your sugar intake is bound to reduce. Stop stocking up on sugar and high carb food. It is only logical that you will crave less, or more broadly, will have lesser options to feed your urge. Rather than storing snacks that are unhealthy, store more of fruits and green vegetables to serve as snacks. It is important that these healthy snacks are openly kept. To fight the hunger and sugar cravings, it will automatically become easier to grab a healthy snack than going till the market and having junk. Stock your house with healthy food.
  • HAVE HIGH-FAT MEALS 
Just like sugar, carbs lead to glucose spike and ultimate crash. Hence, there is more craving for sugar later. Bread, Bagels, Pasta and other carbs are highly refined. They act like sugar in the body. It is the high-quality fats that give lasting energy to the human body. Having a high-fat quality meal is sure to keep you full for longer hours and curb any sugar cravings. The body adapts to a high-fat and low carb diet in a couple of weeks.

  • REMOVE STRESSORS
Desserts spelled opposite is desserts. It is true in the real world. More stress leads to heightened sugar cravings. People who are overstressed in life have sugar cravings far more often. Stressors such as minimal sleep and long working hours make sugar cravings hard to fight. Biologically, when we are stressed the body releases Cortisol as a response. Cortisol increases our urge for comfortable and “stress-relieving” food. More importantly, the regulation of blood sugar is disturbed when consumption of sugar and stress are combined. Interestingly, body movement is one of the easiest ways to eliminate stress. It is suggested that body must be in action. Exercising, walking, yoga boosts energy in the body and reduces the dependency on sugar.
  • TRY NATURAL SWEETENERS
Sugar Cravings can be satisfied by natural sweeteners to an extent. Several natural spices add sweetness to the food. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves are natural sweeteners. Stevia, also a natural sweetener, is 300 times sweeter than sugar. However, Stevia has zero calories and does not affect the blood sugar level.

Sugar Cravings
Bad sugar should be replaced by natural sweeteners such as Nutmeg, Cinnamon. Wikimedia

  • READ THE LABELS
The labels on our food deserve more attention and closer inspection. We cannot leave it to guesswork to know if a product will have sugar as an ingredient. Further, different quantity is another aspect. It is important to know the grams of sugar added to the product.

 

  • DRINK WATER
Water gives numerous benefits to the human body. In the case of controlling sugar cravings, water does wonder. Sometimes, it is the thirst that we perceive as a food craving. Drinking water satisfies that thirst and the sugar craving is curbed. Of course, soda and sugar-filled drinks are not recommended. Substitute these with coffee, tea, and fresh juices.
  • OTHER TIPS
There are other steps that help curb the sweet tooth urge. Deficiencies in the diet can be satisfied with daily consumption of multivitamin. Small adjustments like avoiding the route where your favorite dessert shop may be located. It is best to avoid the consumption of processed foods and also artificial sweeteners. All these are triggers. Lastly, keeping a track of your days without sugar is motivational. It is a reminder of what the fight is all about.

–  by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

Next Story

­Indian Caribbean Museum at Trinidad and Tobago needs State’s Help

The museum in Waterloo is dedicated to the preservation of artifacts on the material history of indentured immigrants in the Caribbean.

0
238
The Indian Caribbean Museum. Image source: Wikipedia

Last Wednesday, a lecture was given by the Anthropologist Dr Kumar Mahabir at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce in Westmoorings where he urged the state to assist the continuous existence of the Indian Caribbean museum via government grants. Trinidad and Tobago is known for having the only Indian Caribbean museum in the world.

92-year-old San Juan resident Andrew Richardson, Chairman of the National Trust Valerie Taylor was present along with Sunday Express columnist Lennox Grant and conservationist James Telfer.

Dr Kumar said, “The largest number of arrivals (at the museum) took place in May. It gets 65 per cent domestic tourists and 35 per cent foreigners. We need to ensure it is preserved for posterity.”

“The Indian Caribbean museum was the only one of its kind in the world. There is an Indian diaspora museum in Belize, Central America, but that is opened only for private viewing and strictly by appointment. This museum in Waterloo is dedicated to the preservation of artifacts on the material history of indentured immigrants in the Caribbean. It is open to the public free of charge from Wednesdays to Sundays,” Mahabir said.

While addressing people present in the conference room, Mahabir shared vignettes on the historical archives, with kitchen utensils such as tawah (flat, round cast-iron griddle), a bilnah (rolling pin) as well as mortar and pestle. There were also rare documents, thematic paintings and documentary films on indentureship. Through this, it was found that the process by which East Indians travelled to the Caribbean from India and worked on sugar cane plantations on a contractual basis.

Dedicated to preserving artefacts: Veteran journalist Lennox Grant, right, chats with anthropologist Dr Kumar ­Mahabir, who spoke on the Indian Caribbean Museum during a lecture at the Chamber of Commerce, Westmoorings, last ­Wednesday. The function was hosted by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE
Dedicated to preserving artifacts: Veteran journalist Lennox Grant, right, chats with anthropologist Dr Kumar ­Mahabir, who spoke on the Indian Caribbean Museum during a lecture at the Chamber of Commerce, Westmoorings, last ­Wednesday. The function was hosted by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE

This museum is present in Waterloo as it falls under a group of tourist attractions such as the 84-foot Hanuman Murti, ­Temple in the Sea that is 84 feet in height, was built by ­Siewdass Sadhu and in the vici­nity of the traditional clay potters (deyas).

Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations, a National Geographic publication has featured this museum.

Related Article: St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art: Demonstrating Hindu Deities in Scotland

  • Need for State funding

It is unfortunate that the museum operates through donations from visitors and doesn’t receive any annual subvention or a monthly stipend from the governments- both People’s National Movement (PNM) and People’s Partnership. The state needs to intervene in the matter and show accountability as tourism has the potential to branch out the economy.

“It is even more important since there is an economic slowdown. We need to adopt a more serious attitude like countries like the United Kingdom (referring to the Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare town) and France (Mona Lisa),” he said.

Dr Kumar informed that they were about to conduct interviews with people over 90 years old to document their life experiences.

“Again the State could intervene and assist historians and researchers financially. These elderly folk are valuable sources of oral history. They would have lived through two World Wars… They have witnessed significant milestones in Trinidad and Tobago’s history, such as Independence and the (Tubal Uriah) Butler riots,” he added.

Last year, in 2015, the India Caribbean museum at Waterloo, Carapichaima has attracted about 5,500 domestic as well as international visitors and has been operating for a decade now.

(Inputs from Daily Express)

Next Story

No cut in the coverage of National Food Security Act : Ram Vilas Paswan

0
28

By Newsgram Staff Writer

Government has decided not to accept the recommendation of High Level Committee on restructuring of FCI regarding cut in the coverage of the National Food Security Act, said Food Minister  Ram Vilas Paswan

He clarified that beneficiary coverage at the level of 67 per cent as provided by the Nations Food Security Act would continue. He said his Ministry has submitted its views to the Prime Minister’s office regarding all the recommendations of the committee.

Addressing the media here today, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan said that his Ministry has already taken several steps to improve the management of foodgrains. As a result of timely allocations of foodgrains and efficient open market sale policy now there is no old stocks piling up in FCI godowns.

After the current month no stock more than one year old will be in FCI godowns. The Minister said that FCI has also been directed to ensure that movement of foodgrains from CAP storage should be made within six months to avoid any damage.

The Minister said that the Government has allocated more budget to the ongoing schemes of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. This will certainly help in modernization of Public Distribution System and to augment Consumer Protection Mechanism.

He said that end to end computerization Scheme of the Department will get major boost as Budget allocation in the FY 2015-16 is 80 crore while according to Revised Budget Estimates for FY 2014-15 it was Rs. 35 crores.

Similarly, allocation for Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority for 2015-16 is Rs 30 crore, significant increase from Rs.13.81 of the Revised Estimates for 2014-15. The Budget for Strengthening of quality control mechanism for non-building assets has also been increased to Rs. 5 crore from Rs. 3.50 crore. Sugar Development Fund of the Department has also got more allocation in the budget which is Rs. 500 crore while was Rs. 396.45 crore in the Revised Estimates of 2014-15.
He said that allocation for Consumer Protection Activities and programmes have been more than doubled. Allocation for FY 2015-16 is Rs. 43.00 crores while allocation for the same was Rs. 17.72 crores in the Revised Budget Estimates for FY 2014-15.Bureau of India Standards, which is almost a self finance autonomous body of the Ministry working in the area of Standardization and quality control has also been got almost double allocation in the budget from RE of 2014-15. Total plan Budget of the Department of Consumer Affairs has been proposed to Rs. 180.00 crores in the Budget while in the Revised Estimates of 2014-15 it was 140.00 crores.

fruits-562357_640