As part of its renewed efforts to address farm distress, the government is considering extending additional subsidised loans of at least Rs 6,000 crores to sugar mills and others to expand their ethanol production capacity a move that is aimed at helping the mills diversify their product basket away from its over-dependence on sugar, and bolstering their ability to clear cane dues to farmers. The food ministry has floated a proposal to facilitate cheaper loans to 142 more sugar units belonging to various companies on top of the 114 units that have already been selected to avail of such loans worth Rs 6,139 crore under a scheme approved by the Cabinet last year. Not just sugar mills but even standalone ethanol production units, which are not in the sugar business but typically source excess molasses from sugar mills to manufacture the biofuel, are proposed to be covered by the loan scheme this time. The eligible units will get an interest subsidy of up to 6% or a half of the actual interest they pay for the loan offered to expand ethanol capacity, whichever is lower. The Centre will offer the interest subsidy for five years, within which the loans have to be repaid by mills.