Sugarcane crushing likely to be delayed in Maharashtra

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Oct 7 2009, 04:48am hrs
Unseasaonal rains in various parts of Maharashtra, mainly in the sugarcane growing regions of Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur and parts of Marathwada could delay crushing in the state and impact the standing crop is the rains continue for another week.

According to senior state government officials and representatives of Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories in Maharashtra, crushing timetable of sugar mills which were expected to start from November 1, could go haywire is the rains continue as then it will make harvesting difficult. Already, 2009-10 sugar production in state is projected to be around 46 to 48 lakh tonne.

Heavy rains in the sugarcane growing regions is a bad news especially when the drought situation in Vidarbha, parts of Marathwada and Khandesh regions has already damaged sugarcane output. There has been no fresh planting in these regions due to drought and now incessant rains in other parts has made the situation more serious. If the rainfall remains for a week there is an every danger the standing crop will damage put more pressure on an already stretched, industry officials said.

Sources said out of 70 sugar mills (both cooperative and private) situated in the Vidarbha, Marathwada and Khandesh regions only 20 mills may start crushing from November 1

State officials and millers are bracing to crush a lower quantity of around 460 lakh tonne of cane to produce 46-48 lakh tonne of sugar.

However, amid the uncertainty, experts said that the rains will have a positive impact on the sugarcane crop in western Maharashtra as plantation in this area is comparatively better. The price of cane offered in this region for the 2009-10 crushing season is also higher at about Rs 1,400-1,500 metric tonne.

Had there not been drought cane plantation would have gone up and sugar output would have increased to 55-60 lakh tonnes because of high prices offered by millers, a miller rued.

Maharashtra, produced 46 lakh tonnes of sugar in the crop season that ended September 30, 2009.