Maharashtra sugar millers seek extension of loan waiver for flood-hit cane farmers

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Published: August 22, 2019 3:02:13 AM

The millers have also sought a one-time grant of Rs 500 per tonne of the cane crushed to help them overcome the current crisis as the millers are not being able to meet the cost of production.

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Maharashtra sugar millers have urged chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to extend the loan waiver announced for farmers who have lost their crops on one hectare (2.47 acre) to two hectare in the recent floods at Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara regions that collectively have 3.26 lakh hectare under cane cultivation.

Since farmers face losses for the sugar season of 2019-20 as their crops have been destroyed in flood water, the government should give a grant of Rs 50,000 per acre to farmers up to a maximum of 5 acre, Jayprakash Dandegaokar, chairman, Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation ( MSCSFF), said in a representation submitted to Fadnavis.

The millers have also sought a one-time grant of Rs 500 per tonne of the cane crushed to help them overcome the current crisis as the millers are not being able to meet the cost of production. Besides, the millers have demanded the release of funds pending under various loans given by the Centre to sugar factories for payment of fair and remunerative price (FRP).

Dandegaonkar said that since the recovery would be affected, the government should give assistance worth Rs 310 per tonne for each percent of recovery that is reduced due to floods.

Floods caused havoc in Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur which collectively have 53 mills and an area of 3.26 lakh hectare under cane. Data is still being collected and preliminary data suggests that of the 53 factories, the operational area of 29 factories has been affected, he said.
Maharashtra sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad had stated earlier that around 50,000 hectare of cane was under water.

While industry body Western India Sugar Mills Association (WISMA) said that the state’s sugar production is likely to drop to 52-55 lakh tonne for the sugar season of 2019-20, others felt that the state’s production could be affected to the tune of 35%.

Officials expect that the crushing period will be reduced from 160 days to 130 days due to less availability of cane during the drought conditions and nearly100 days with the floods.

With many parts of state drought-hit, farmers had used cane for fodder. Many farmers in Ahmednagar and Solapur districts uprooted their cane crops because of water scarcity. Therefore, cane cultivation area was reduced from 11.62 lakh hectare in 2018-19 to 8.43 lakh hectare, severely affecting sugar production.

For the sugar crushing season of 2018-19, which commenced on October 20 last, about 952.11 lakh tonne of sugarcane was crushed and 107 lakh tonne of sugar was produced. In the three districts, about 7.93 lakh acre of sugarcane was planted, which led to 301 lakh tonne of sugarcane being crushed and 36 lakh tonne production of sugar.

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