Government has no plans to resume sale of subsidised rice for ethanol production: Food Secretary

Sanjeev Chopra, the Food Secretary, has said that the Government currently has no intention to reintroduce the sale of subsidised rice to grain-based distilleries for ethanol production, according to media reports. He said, “Since July last year, rice has not been diverted for ethanol production. There is no proposal as of now to revisit that policy.”

Chopra addressed inquiries regarding the potential resumption of subsidised rice sales for ethanol production, particularly in light of anticipated declines in sugar production during the 2024-25 season (October-September). He explained that the cessation of rice sales for ethanol production stemmed from various concerns, including domestic output uncertainties, high retail prices, and economic feasibility issues.

Regarding the impact on investments in grain-based distilleries, Chopra emphasised, “This policy is not set in stone. It will be revisited… Maize is being promoted for ethanol production.” He highlighted a significant increase in ethanol production from maize, with approximately 50 crore litres supplied during the 2024-25 supply year.

He urged industries that have grain-based distilleries to prioritise maize for ethanol production. Regarding the anticipated decrease in sugar output next season, he acknowledged the Government’s awareness and concern. However, he noted that it’s premature to forecast sugar production figures for the 2024-25 season, with reliable data expected in August.

Citing reports of lower reservoir levels in Maharashtra and Karnataka compared to previous years, Chopra underscored the government’s caution in ensuring higher sugar closing stocks for the current season. He affirmed that these stocks could be utilised not only for domestic consumption but also for diversion to ethanol production if necessary.

Furthermore, Chopra highlighted the government’s decision to increase the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane for the next season, signalling a positive message to farmers to boost cultivation. The sugarcane FRP has been raised to Rs 340 per quintal for the 2024-25 season, up from Rs 315 per quintal in the current season.


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