Uttar Pradesh, the country’s largest sugarcane producer, is expected to see another bumper crop in the coming season. The total area under sugarcane cultivation is estimated to be up by 3-4% year-on-year.
According to industry sources, there is a continuous uptick in sugarcane planting for the 2022-23 (October-September) season, with higher cane prices providing the incentive for farmers to grow the crop instead of paddy and wheat. As per data, the state is estimated to have upward of 2.93 million hectare of land under sugarcane cultivation in 2022-23, against 2.84 million hectare in 2021-2022 season. The total area under cane was 2.76 million hectare in 2020-21 and 2.74 million hectare in 2019-20.
“The area under cane cultivation has seen a continuous upswing over the years, despite the fact that a clutch of sugar mills still owed farmers more than Rs 7,400 crore. The major reason behind the farmers’ keenness to plant sugarcane is the fact that cane prices in the state are more remunerative as compared to wheat and paddy. Added to this is the fact that most of the sugar mills have cleared their payment to farmers in a time-bound manner,” said a miller.
The sugarcane department, on its part, has ensured the easy availability of high-yielding breeder seed to the farmers. “We have engaged women self-help groups (SHGs) in growing new varieties of sugarcane seedling in nurseries. We are also providing fertilisers, pesticides and other essential inputs on easy terms to farmers,” said cane commissioner Sanjay Bhoosreddy, adding that while sowing will continue till October, current data show that the area under cultivation has already seen an increase of 80,000 hectare.
Another reason for farmers turning to cane production is the fact that sugarcane is a sturdier crop compared to wheat and paddy and can withstand the vagaries of weather better that the rest. “While timely and adequate rains are absolutely necessary for wheat and paddy, deficit or late rains are conducive for the sugarcane, which is a major reason for the farmer turning to this crop,” said another miller.
This year, the state advised price of sugarcane was Rs 350 per quintal for the early variety, Rs 340 for the normal variety and Rs 335 for the rejected variety.
While cane payments of Rs 27,780 crore were cleared till July 5, another Rs 7,400 crore was pending.