Problem of plenty: Maharashtra sugar millers looking for more warehousing space

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Published: May 16, 2019 12:28:16 AM

Following a record production of 107.19 lakh tonne of sugar, Maharashtra now faces a problem of plenty. Since warehouses are packed to the hilt, sugar millers are now forced to store their stocks in sheds with tarpaulin covers and are seeking more storage space.

With monsoon approaching next month, it is important for sugar mills to store the sweetener carefully so that the stocks do not get spoiltWith monsoon approaching next month, it is important for sugar mills to store the sweetener carefully so that the stocks do not get spoilt

Following a record production of 107.19 lakh tonne of sugar, Maharashtra now faces a problem of plenty. Since warehouses are packed to the hilt, sugar millers are now forced to store their stocks in sheds with tarpaulin covers and are seeking more storage space.

Sanjay Khatal, MD, Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation (MSCSFF), pointed out that the carry forward stock of sugar from the last season on October 1, 2018 was around 53.236 lakh tonne, which means the total sugar stock in the state is nearly 160.55 lakh tonne.

Nearly 62 lakh tonne of sugar was sold from October 2018 till the end of May, which means around 98.55 lakh tonne of sugar remains in the state as on date.

“The Centre has fixed the Minimum Support Price of sugar at `3,100 per quintal. This means around `31,000 crore worth of sugar is currently stockpiled in various sugar factories,” he said.

Khatal said that the federation had already approached the state government with a proposal seeking storage space from state and central warehouses at concessional rates. There has been no response yet to the proposal, he said.

The monsoon is approaching next month and it is important for sugar mills to store sugar carefully so that the stocks do not get damaged. If the sugar remains in open space as it is now, the stock shall surely get damaged. Although millers expect to meet their sales quotas for the month of May, the demand is expected to be sluggish in the monsoon season from June to September and the carry forward stock in October 2019 is expected to touch around 70 lakh tonne, he said.

Khatal said that planting in the next season is likely to be 40% lower than the current season because of the drought.

Cane was planted in some 11.65 lakh hectare last season. No new plantation has taken place and the ration crop is likely to be used for fodder, he said. The state, which accounts for about 34% of India’s total sugar production, may end up producing less than half of 107.94 lakh tonne, its output in the last season.

Maharashtra’s sugar season ended last week with the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), a farmers’ association, threatening to stage demonstrations outside district collectors’ offices in the cane-producing regions. They alleged that authorities had failed to take action against errant sugar mills that did not clear farmers’ fair and remunerative price (FRP) dues. The farmer body has already threatened to take the legal course and serve notices to district collectors for their alleged failure to implement orders on issuing Revenue Recovery Certificate (RRC).

Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad has, so far, slapped RRC notices on 52 sugar mills. The state;s FRP dues now amount to `3,607.52 crore. Yogesh Pande said that they have already sent letters to district collectors in cane growing regions. We shall follow up after eight days or so and shall agitate if the FRP dues of farmers are still pending, he said.

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