Around 124 sugar mills in Maharashtra, including 68 cooperative factories and 56 sugar factories, have commenced crushing to produce around 76.63 lakh quintal of sugar in the 2019-20 season.
Around 124 sugar mills in Maharashtra, including 68 cooperative factories and 56 sugar factories, have commenced crushing to produce around 76.63 lakh quintal of sugar in the 2019-20 season. Senior officials expect recoveries to be hit this season due to the extended monsoons in parts of Maharashtra and drought in other parts of the state.
Nearly 81.81 lakh tonne of cane has been crushed by mills so far. Although the state’s crushing season began in the last week of November, in reality crushing picked pace from December. In the first fortnight of the season, Kolhapur division was leading the state in comparison to other divisions, with an average recovery of 10%.
Normally every season, the recovery rate in Kolhapur is 11%. Recoveries have declined to 9% in Pune division, 8% in Solapur, 7% in Aurangabad and the impact can be seen on the sugar production. Because of a 1% decrease in recovery, the mills end up losing 10 kg per tonne, industry people pointed out. Market rates for this sugar are above Rs. 300 per quintal and factories are losing Rs. 300 per tonne as compared to the previous season, industry experts revealed.
Due to the extended monsoon this year, there is very little good quality cane in the state. In Kolhapur region, millers are under pressure to harvest the cane that went down under floods. This has hit production in Kolhapur region while in Solapur and Ahmednagar divisions, the lack of rains has affected production.
As per the estimates of Sugar Commissioner’s office, around 23 lakh tonne of cane was crushed in Kolhapur division, followed by 18 lakh tonne in Pune division, and 8 lakh tonne in Ahmednagar division. Barely 5 lakh tonne was crushed in Solapur division. In the first fortnight, factories are struggling for better recoveries. Sugar recoveries are expected to improve in the next couple of months with a drop in temperatures.
As per the data, barring Kolhapur, Pune and Ahmednagar, crushing is slow in other divisions of the state. According to officials, every season while the recovery rates are less in October and November, it usually picks up in December due to the cold weather. This season due to poor quality cane as well, recovery has been affected, senior officials said.
Meanwhile, sugar millers in Kolhapur have expressed willingness to pay one time Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) to farmers. In a press release issued by the millers, they said the decision has been taken with the expectation that the state government will announce the loan waiver to farmers by the end of December.
“Three weeks have passed since mills have begun crushing. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has declared that the farmers’ loan will be waived. We are expecting that the decision in this regard will be taken during the Assembly session in Nagpur. In view of this, we will deposit the one-time FRP to the bank accounts of the farmers,” the statement said.
The millers also demanded that the government increase the rate of sugar to Rs. 3,600 per quintal. Swabhimani Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti pointed out that as per the Cane Control Act, it is mandatory for millers to pay FRP within 14 days of crushing cane. We welcome the millers’ decision. However, we are firm on our demand for an additional Rs. 200 per tonne along with the FRP. The millers are free to pay the amount later,” he said.
Last year, sugar mills have paid FRP in three installments. This year, the farmers have said that they will not accept the FRP in installments. “We had already informed millers that we will not accept FRP in installments. We are keeping a watch on the situation.
Some mills have not even cleared last years’ arrears. We have warned the mills to clear dues as soon as possible, he said, threatening to launch an agitation if millers fail to clear dues.