Agri Business

Maharashtra mills crush 390 lakh tonnes of sugarcane to produce 423 lakh quintals of sugar

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on February 18, 2020

File photo   -  The Hindu

Sugar mills paying Fair and Remunerative Price to farmers promptly

Maharashtra’s sugar mills crushed 390.82 lakh tonnes of sugarcane by February 13 this season, producing 423.42 lakh quintals of sugar with an extract rate of 10.83. Data available with the Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner’s office reveals that 77 cooperative and 66 private sugar mills (total 143 mills) have started crushing this year. Eight mills in the State are yet to begin crushing operations.

Interestingly, this year, sugar mills have shown promptness in paying the Fair and remunerative price (FRP) to farmers. According to reports, the mills have paid an FRP of ₹4,886 crore to farmers out of ₹5,808 crore dues by the second week of February. According to the Sugar Commissioner’s Office, no Revenue Recovery Certificate (RRC) has been issued to any sugar mills this season asking them to pay the FRP.

Last season, farmers had launched an agitation, forcing mills to pay the FRP. By the end of last crushing season, mills had paid 94 per cent of the FRP to sugarcane farmers. Of the total payable FRP of ₹23,000 crore, mills had paid about ₹21, 604 crore to over 20 lakh cane growers in the State.

Last season, 195 sugar mills crushed 952.60 lakh tonnes of sugarcane to produce 1,071 lakh quintals of sugar. This season, a drought in Marathwada and floods in the sugar belt of western Maharashtra ruined sugarcane crops. Sugarcane tracts in Sangli and Kolhapur districts were submerged under floodwaters in October last year. According to industry experts, sugarcane acreage in Maharashtra this year is 8.43 lakh hectares and sugar production might be affected.

The sugarcane farming and crushing season provides a livelihood to nearly 2.5 crore people in rural Maharashtra and gives direct employment to about 1,65,000 workers, apart from eight lakh workers engaged in harvesting and transportation operations every year for six months.

CBI inquiry sought

Meanwhile Shalinitai Patil, former Minister and wife of late Maharashtra Chief Minister Vasantdada Patil, has demanded a CBI inquiry into the sale of sugar mills. She alleged that cooperative sugar mills were targeted by Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar.

Speaking to media at Koregaon, she alleged that using SARFAESI (Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act), sugar mills were being sold at throwaway prices to private entities close to the Pawars.

Published on February 18, 2020

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