"Farmers are being encouraged to grow crops to break them away from conventional wheat-paddy cycle. Due to dip in prices of sugar in the international markets, the sugar mills are facing problems," Punjab Agriculture Minister Tota Singh said.
He urged the Centre to minimise excise duty levied on the sugar mills.
Singh took up this matter with Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan in a meeting held yesterday in Delhi.
Currently, the Centre is levying excise duty of Rs 97 per quintal on sugarmills, said an official of Punjab Cane department here.
"We want that the Centre should lower this excise duty in order to give some relief to sugarmills in the state," said official.
Sugar mills in Punjab are claiming that they have been suffering huge losses on account of low sugar prices with Rs 682 crore of payments outstanding towards cane growers in the state.
"Millers are facing loss of more than Rs 40 a quintal on sugar while prices of sugar in the market are on lower side. As a result of which they are facing losses," he said.
Sugar mill owners had pointed that there was no "viability" in running sugar mills as there were very high rates of cane in the state while current sugar prices were lesser than input cost.

Official said if steps are not taken to prevent losses of sugarmills, then it would have an adverse impact on crop diversification programme of the state as farmers would be discouraged to grow sugarcane in future.
Punjab is not expecting rise in acreage in sugar cane this season with total cane area being projected at last season's area of 95,000 hectares.
There are 16 sugarmills, including seven in private sector in Punjab, with crushing capacity of 49,766 tonnes crushing per day.
Punjab pays State Agreed Price (SAP) of early, medium and late varieties of sugarcane at Rs 295, Rs 285 and Rs 280 per quintal respectively for the crushing season of 2014-15.
About steps taken to give relief to sugarcane sector, Punjab Agriculture minister said that it had remitted market fees and rural development fund (RDF) on sugar cane production.

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