Agri Business

Maharashtra sugar mills set for early close of season

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on December 24, 2019 Published on December 24, 2019

The sugar mills crushed 81.81 lakh tonnes of sugarcane; 76.63 lakh quintals of sugar was produced with a recovery rate of 9.37 per cent.

Low acreage, diversion of cane for fodder, crop losses due to flood behind trend

The sugar season in Maharashtra is in full swing but the majority of the sugar mills are likely to complete their operations by the end of January 2020 due to lower acreage, diversion of cane for fodder and crop losses due to floods.

Usually, the sugar season in the State commences after Diwali and continues till the end of March. But this sugar season (2019-20) is curtailed by about 60 days as the acreage has shrunk to about 8.22 lakh hectares, against last season’s (2018-19) 11.62 lakh hectares.

The Sugar Commissioner of Maharashtra, Shekhar Gaikwad, told BusinessLine that over the next 30 days about 70 per cent of the mills will complete their operations on account of lower cane availability. There has been large-scale diversion of cane for animal feed, he said.

The numbers collated as on December 15 by the office of the Sugar Commissioner showed 68 co-operative mills and 56 private mills were active in the State. Together they crushed 81.81 lakh tonnes of sugarcane; 76.63 lakh quintals of sugar was produced with a recovery rate of 9.37 per cent.

Fodder shortage

Farm expert Raoshaheb Pujari from Kolhapur said the State, before the onset of the monsoon season, was facing drinking water problems and shortage of animal fodder. Framers sold their cane to fodder contractors for better rates. Farm animals also prefer cane due to its sweetness. Once the cane is cut the farmers are free to use the land for other crops, he said.

Pujari added that in the region around Kolhapur, most of the mills will close by January. However, a handful of co-operative sugar mills, such as Shree Dutta, located at Shirol in Kolhapur, will continue with operations till March as they have over 45,000 member farmers and large areas under cane cultivation. Shree Dutta even gets sugarcane from Karnataka.

Published on December 24, 2019
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