Increased recovery, yield to tame fears of low cane output

Written by Deepa Jainani | Lucknow | Updated: Dec 1 2009, 04:51am hrs
Despite continued protests by the farmers in some pockets of the sugarcane belt, the crushing phenomenon in Uttar Pradesh is slowly gathering pace in the last few days. Out of the total 128 sugar mills in the state, including 92 privately-owned, 86 mills have already started crushing and the rest are scheduled to operate from the first week of December.

While the initial advantage of late crushing has definitely gone to the kolhus, which have been the lone beneficiary of the mill-farmer slugfest in a year marked by low crop, the fact remains that the situation is still not as bad as had been predicted earlier by some market watchers. However, area under cane production has seen a massive drop of almost 20% than that of last year.

But the situation is not so bleak in UP as the average recovery from sugarcane has shot up to almost 10% from 9.2% last year. The state had produced approximately 39.5 lakh quintal of sugar last year.

Despite a low crop, the farmers and the millers have been blessed with a better yield and recovery. Though yield and recovery vary from region to region, western UP traditionally has a higher recovery pattern, though Central UP had toppled us for the last few years in recovery, says a miller from western UP. While last years average recovery in his mill was around 370 quintal per hectare, this year it has increased to 450 quintal per hectare.

Last year, the states production and consumption stood at around 40 quintal. This year, too, we are not likely to do badly. We will balance it out with that of last year, with a higher recovery and better yield, said a source in the cane department.

Industry insiders are also feel that in some places, the delay in crushing may translate into an even higher percentage of sugar recovery from the cane. If harvesting is delayed till the end of December, the recovery will shoot up to 10.5% in some places, said a miller. However, the state governments restriction on the import of raw sugar from Brazil has kept the millers concerned.

Now that crushing has begun in the state, the government should lift the restriction. We cannot wait till the crushing ends, as has been stated by the state government officials. In that case, what will we do with the raw sugar once the crushing ends quizzed a leading miller in the state, adding that the sugar body ISMA will soon make a representation to the state government in this regard.

They further argue that the central governments logic behind allowing import of raw sugar is to meet the domestic demand and cool the rising price in the retail market. If we are not able to process sugar and supply it to the market, the price will shoot up further, adding to the woes of the consumers, said the miller requesting anonymity.