Agri Business

Sugarcane crushing season in full swing in Maharashtra

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on November 30, 2020

A sugarcane seller on Ring road near nandini layout in Bangalore on Monday. The sugar canes arrived for the sankrathi and Pogal Festival from Mandya and other districts. The prices come down compare to last year. A bunch of sugarcane cost Rs 120 last year it was Rs 180 on the same day. Photo: G R N Somashekar, Bangalore 11 JAN 2010.   -  BL

In Maharashtra, the sugarcane crushing season is in full swing despite the pandemic. To protect over eight lakh cane cutting workers from pandemic, sugar mills are making hand sanitizers from their in-house alcohol production, said Shekhar Gaikwad, State Sugar Commissioner.

Due to good rains in the State this year, the area under sugarcane cultivation has increased to 11 lakh hectare with an estimated 873 lakh metric tonne of cane would be available for crushing till. It will yield 99 lakh tonnes of sugar.

Gaikwad told BusinessLine that for maintaining hygiene, every worker is being provided with 600 ml of hand sanitizer from the factory itself. Since most mills have their own distillery units, making alcohol-based sanitizer is not difficult, he said.

The sugarcane workers are migrant workers who travel to Western Maharashtra from underdeveloped district such as Beed, Latur and Osmanabad in Marathwada for about six months. Since cane cutting, making bundles and loading on the tractor trolleys is very strenuous.

“The workers start their day in the fields in the pre-dawn hours and stop their work when heat builds up. They again resume at dusk. In such open fields conditions, hygiene is a must for protecting against COVID,” a cane development officer with a large sugar mill, said.

Gaikwad said that this year the Centre has given good support for ethanol production by giving a transportation subsidy, which is expected to boost production to over 108 crore litre of ethanol.

However, power produced by co-generation units in the sugar mills could suffer as power produced by such units cost about ₹3 per unit while power from solar units is available at little more than ₹2 per unit, he said.

Published on November 30, 2020

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