gadkari: The sugar industry must diversify: Gadkari | Kolhapur News

Kolhapur: Union Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday that the sugar industry will only stay afloat if it diversifies into the production of ethanol, electricity and green hydrogen.
He was speaking at a reception to inaugurate and lay the groundwork for several completed road construction projects and those proposed to link Solapur district with other districts in the state and neighboring states.
Gadkari said it makes him happy to see the work done to conserve water in drought-prone Solapur and Sangli districts. However, he warned that farmers would find themselves in dire straits if they continued to grow sugarcane just for sugar production.
“Solapur district was once prone to drought. Someone just said that a mill in the district crushed 22 lakh tons of sugarcane. Such large quantities of sugar cane are crushed each season in the district. However, if you continue to cultivate sugar cane for sugar, then believe me, the time will come to end life,” he said.
He added that a few days ago a delegation from Brazil met him. “Brazil is facing drought, which makes the millers here happy. However, if Brazilian production is restored, a surplus of sugar will be produced and the price of sugar will drop to 22 rupees per kg. Millers can’t drive down the price of sugar cane because they have to stay in politics.
Gadkari further suggested that millers should produce more ethanol from sugarcane syrup. “I have now allowed flex engine in two-wheelers and four-wheelers. In six months, vehicles with flex engine will start rolling in India. They are 100% bio-ethanol dependent. Solapur executives to ensure that all vehicles run on ethanol and gasoline consumption is reduced to zero,” Gadkari said.
Gadkari also suggested that millers produce green hydrogen from bagasse (a fibrous material left over after crushing sugar cane) and wastewater. He said green hydrogen will change India’s future. “Sugar production is in deficit. If millers produce ethanol, electricity and green hydrogen and expand the value chain, only then will the sugar industry stay afloat,” Gadkari added.
Gadkari said Maharashtra’s sugar production is the third largest in the world and he will present a vision to all stakeholders during his visit to Vasantdada Sugar Institute in Pune in the first week of May.

Rachel J. Bradford