Agri Business

Rationalise sugarcane pricing, industry urges Govt

Our Bureau Visakhapatnam | Updated on November 25, 2017

The Government should rationalise sugarcane pricing policy and also encourage better use of by-products by the sugar factories. At present, the sugar industry is passing through a grave crisis, according to many representatives of the industry and sugar technologists.

They were speaking at the two-day annual convention of the South Indian Sugarcane and Sugar Technologists' Association which began here on Friday. Association president R.V Vatnal said that "sugarcane price is increasing exponentially, and making the operation of many mills economically unsustainable. There is an urgent need to take a relook at the sugarcane pricing policy and make it more realistic. The policies of the Government are pushing many sugar mills into sickness. Many mills are facing acute cane scarcity and there are several other problems plaguing the industry including high power tariff and they should be addressed in right earnest by the Government, the industry and farmers."

He said sugarcane farming should be made remunerative for the farmer, but at the same time the operation of the mills should also be made sustainable. All efforts should be made to cut the cost of cane cultivation, increase yields and the sucrose content of the cane at the farm level and also to improve the efficiency of the mills for better use of the byproducts at the mill level. The Government's policies should be carefully tailored to meet both the ends.

Andhra Sugars Joint Managing Director M. Narendranath said mechanisation in sugarcane cultivation at the present juncture was inevitable as there was labour scarcity at the farm level. "It is possible to introduce mechanisation at the farm level, even though our holdings are small. At the Andhra Sugars, we have found that Australina experience is particularly useful in the regard. There will be some cane loss if we introduce harvesters, but the loss should be compensated by the factories. The gains far outweigh the losses," he said.

KCP Sugars Chairman Vinod R Sethi said the challenges facing the sector were many but they were by no means insurmountable, and "efforts should be made to introduce indigenised mechanical solutions at the farm level." The Government should frame a suitable policy framework to promote innovation and better use of byproducts.

Jagadeesh Gudaganti, the CMD of Siddapur Distilleries Ltd, Karnataka, said rationalisation of cane pricing policy could no longer be postponed and "as suggested by the Rangarajan committee a revenue sharing formula should be adopted as in many sugar producing countries in the world. The cane price should be pegged at 70 per cent of actual revenue realisation by sale of sugar, molasses, 25 per cent of bagasse and press mud or 75 per cent revenue realised by sale of sugar alone."

He said Maharashtra and Karnataka were following the system, as suggested by the Rangarajan committee, and others should follow suit.

Vice-chancellor of Achraya N.G Ranga Agricultural University A. Padma Raju said the mills and the Government should take care of the sugarcane farmers first, as "sugarcane cultivation is not very profitable in the present circumstances. In the Indian situation, mechanisation is easier said than done. It is not impossible, and it can be done in spite of our small holdings. But a group approach and meticulous village level planning are required for mechansing cane cultivation."

>sarma.rs@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 25, 2014

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