TN sugar sector hits sweet spot after 3 years of bitter harvest

L N Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on January 10, 2018

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Production had fallen to 6-lakh tonnes due to extreme drought

The recent wet spell, it appears, has come as a ray of hope for sugar mills in Tamil Nadu. “Though not immediately, we hope things will look up in the next two years,” said Palani G Periasamy, President, South India Sugar Mills Association (SISMA - TN).

Worst crisis

Speaking on the sidelines of the four-day international symposium on ‘Sugarcane research since Co 205: 100 years and beyond’, organised by the Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore, in association with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and SISMA-TN, he said the industry in the State witnessed its worst period the last 3-4 years due to extreme drought.

Lower capacity utilisation

Sugar production slipped from 25-lakh tonnes to 6-lakh tonnes and factories were operating at a mere 20 per cent of their installed capacity. Mills in the State have a capacity to produce 30-lakh tonnes of sugar a year.

Lower capacity utilisation had resulted in rising fixed costs – sugar mills in the private sector alone have made a loss of ₹1,300 crore.

Despite the ills that the mill sector had to cope with, sugarcane proved to be a good crop for the farmer.

While most State governments came forward to bail out the industry from its worst crisis by extending a subsidy, the sector in TN got nothing, the SISMA chief lamented.

Comprehensive approach

The sugar industry in TN needs governmental support to rehabilitate the sector. From the third position, TN has slipped to the 6th position in ranking, he said, and stressed that the government should work with the industry and the farming community and come up with a comprehensive approach to make the industry profitable.

“A revenue sharing formula, impetus to cane research, financial assistance to farmers and relief to factories are what we are seeking in a nutshell,” said Periasamy.

Published on September 18, 2017

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