Maharashtra’s sugar season of 2018-19 is drawing to a close. Last week, five mills have stopped operations on completing the crushing process, taking the total figure to 12. Around 192 mills participated in sugar production this year.
Maharashtra sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said around 841 lakh tonnes of cane had been crushed so far, producing nearly 90 lakh tonnes of raw sugar. The season lasted for around 110 days in FY19, and five-six mills may remain open till April, while most of them are likely to stop working in March, he said.
KGS Sugars is the first mill in the state to shut down on February 3, after working for 69 days. KGS Sugars crushed 49,468 tonnes of cane to produce 42,940 quintals of sugar at a recovery rate of 8.68%.
This was followed by Jai Shree Ram Sugar, which shut shop on February 6 and crushed 166,402 tonnes to produce 172,500 quintals with a recovery rate of 10.37%. The mills that stopped operations in the first phase worked between 69 and 105 days. The first five mills to shut down are from Pune, Ahmednagar, Solapur and Nashik.
The commissioner said the fair and remunerative price ( FRP) position had improved. From Rs 4,600 crore on February 15, millers have paid up Rs 400 crore in the last four days bringing down the total arrears to Rs 4,200 crore.
The threat of action by the Maharashtra sugar commissionerate to seize sugar stocks from factories has prompted millers to loosen their purse strings, and release nearly Rs 2,000 crore in FRP payments to farmers in the second week of February. During the period, factories in the state have paid Rs 5,915 crore in cane payments after the commissionerate slapped revenue and recovery certificate (RRC) action notices on 45 factories.
Over 17 mills in the state had entered into agreements with farmers for the delayed payment of FRP. The total arrears accordingly were Rs 15,605 crore.
However, farmer outfits in the state resorted to agitations on delayed payments, following which RRC notices were issued to 45 mills. Around 20 mills have made 100% FRP payment, 44 mills have made 80-90% payments, 61 (60-79%), 42 mills (40-59%) and 19 mills (20%) cane payments, data available till February 15 revealed. Gaikwad is hopeful the cane dues would fall below 10% by March-end.