Agri Business

In Maharashtra, floods make for bitter sugarcane harvest in the current season

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on November 20, 2019

Maharashtra’s sugar production for 2019-20 (October-September) is likely to dip 45 per cent due to lower acreage, adverse climatic conditions and diversion of sugarcane for animal fodder. Ethanol production is also expected to dip by 40 per cent.

An executive with a large sugar mill has said that prices in the wholesale and retail markets, however, are expected to be firm due to massive unsold stocks from previous years.

For the sugar year 2018-19 the production was 107 lakh tonnes (lt) and for 2019-20 it is likely decline to 58 lt.

On Tuesday, Sugar Commissioner of Maharashtra, Shekhar Gaikwad told BusinessLine that in 2018-19, the acerage was 11.62 lakh hectares but for 2019-20 it has dipped to about 8.22 lakh hectares.

The Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari met Gaikwad and gave the go-ahead for crushing operations for the year 2019-20. Since the State is under Presidential rule, Governor’s assent is required on all major decisions.

Gaikwad said that the sugarcane crushing will commence on Friday in 162 mills in the State. Another 22 mills can also start operations provided they pay up their past dues to farmers. However, 15 mills are facing litigation and cannot crush sugarcane.

The Sugar Commissioner also added that the State Government will recover ₹50 per quintal from the sugar mills, as tagging charge. The funds will be ploughed back into the sugar sector.

Operations are likely to be hit in mills in Kolhapur and Sangli region where farmers led by Swabhimani Shetkari Saghtana (SSS) are agitating for higher sugarcane price. The Centre has fixed a Fair and Remunerative Price of ₹2,750 per tonne for the season.

An ISMA statement of November 5 had said that as per preliminary estimates in July 2019, cane area of Maharashtra was seen lower by about 30 per cent for 2019-20, on account of the drought last year in Marathwada and Solapur.Floods to affected important cane growing areas in August – September.

Cane area for 2019-20 has further dropped to 7.76 lakh hectare, against what was reported about four months back, about 33 per cent less than last year’s 11.54 lakh hectare. Sugar production is, therefore, estimated to drop by almost 40 per cent to 62 lakh tonnes in 2019-20 SS, as against 107.20 lakh tonnes last season, it said.

Published on November 20, 2019

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