The Union food ministry will start talks on decontrol with sugarcane producing states like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra next month.
“We will start consultations (on sugar decontrol) with the sugarcane-producing states after Diwali,” Food, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Minister Sharad Pawar said at the Economic Editors’ Conference here.
He added that the government would decide on allowing sugar export next month.
“In the second week of November, we will get to know the country’s requirement and surplus. After that we will decide when to enter the global market,” Pawar said. Pawar noted that the country would have window to export for few months only as global prices are ruling higher because of supply constraints in Brazil. The country is expected to have a surplus sugar of 3-4 million tonnes (mt) in the current season (October-September).
FDI in multi-brand retail
Pawar today favoured allowing foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, stating that it would help both farmers and consumers. However, he said, interests of millions of small kirana shops should not be “bypassed” and the state governments should also be taken on board.
“FDI in the retail sector is definitely a good opportunity to farming community to get the better price. Simultaneously, consumers will get some advantage. But there is other side also. In a country like India, where there are lakhs and lakhs of small shopkeepers, we just can't bypass them,” Pawar said.
India currently allows 51 per cent FDI in single-brand retail, but none in multi-brand. Recently, the government had initiated a discussion on opening FDI in multi-brand retail. Pawar said that he would like to discuss the matter with the state governments and the industry chambers, so that all the stakeholders benefit from the move.
Pawar on cotton exports
Pawar also said farmers should be allowed to take advantage of firm global prices which may fall after February. He indicated the government might consider allowing exports beyond the 5.5-million-bale quota in December. “In the last week of December, we will review about allowing cotton exports more than the current quota,” he told reporters.