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Maharashtra cane output may top 600 lakh tonnes

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Standing cane crop is of excellent quality; prone to insect attack

Gargi Shah

Mumbai, Oct. 3

With increase in acreage, favourable rainfall in cane producing regions and absence of insect attack (wooley aphids) and better prices last season, Maharashtra's sugarcane output is expected to be around 600 lakh tonnes this year, says Mr Prakash Naiknavare, Managing Director of Maharashtra State Co-operative Sugar Factories Federation Ltd.

Full season

The planted area this year is 9.11 lakh hectares, up from 6.24 lakh ha of last year and 3.24 lakh ha in the year 2004-05. Maharashtra will have a full season of 180 crushing days to produce around 70 lakh tonnes of sugar with an average 11.6 per cent sugar recovery, asserts Mr Naiknavare, adding that the standing cane crop is of excellent quality, but still vulnerable to insect attack that eats into yield. Last year, the State produced 52 lakh tonnes of sugar.

Together with opening stocks of about 8.3 lakh tonnes, total supplies in the State would be a little over 78 lakh tonnes of sugar, available for consumptions and export (subject to the removal of ban). With higher production of sugar, Maharashtra's closing stocks on September 30, 2007 will be higher at 12.3 lakh tonnes (8.3 lakh tonnes), according to Mr Naiknavare.

Rise in area

More area in the State is expected to go under cane planting, as demand for ethanol would give additional revenue. Cane will fetch better prices to the farmers, said Mr Naiknavare expecting five per cent blending to be mandatory from November 1 this year.

The country is expected to harvest a total of 2,668 lakh tonnes of cane from 36.62 lakh hectares, Mr Naiknavare said. The Union Agriculture Ministry recently estimated cane output for 2006-07 at 2830 lakh tonnes.

Availability

The total sugar production of the country for the 2006-07 is expected in the range of 225-230 lakh tonnes creating a new record (the last was 201 lakh tonnes in 2002-03), Mr Naiknavare estimated adding Indian sugar balance sheet for the year 2006-07 will reflect 262 lakh tonnes of sugar available for consumption and exports.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 4, 2006)
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