Why sugar output could be hit this year in Maharashtra

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Published: June 11, 2019 2:01:13 AM

In Solapur, the area under cane cultivation is likely to go down to 1.27 lakh hectare in 2019-20. Last season, about 2.47 lakh hectare was under cane cultivation.

Despite the situation, around 195 mills in Maharashtra crushed 951.79 lakh tonne of cane to produce 107.194 lakh tonne in 2018-19.Despite the situation, around 195 mills in Maharashtra crushed 951.79 lakh tonne of cane to produce 107.194 lakh tonne in 2018-19.

After years of bumper sugar production, Maharashtra could be hit by scarcity in the 2019-20 season with barely 65 lakh tonne of sugar likely to be produced during the season.

The ongoing drought situation in the state could see cane acreage shrink by at least 28% to 8.43 lakh hectare for the 2019-20 season, against 11.62 lakh hectare in 2018-19, top officials of the Maharashtra Sugar Commissionerate said. Maharashtra produced a record 107.19 lakh tonne of sugar in 2018-19.

Sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said the decline in acreage is most likely in Marathwada and Solapur regions which have been badly affected by drought. Despite the situation, around 195 mills in Maharashtra crushed 951.79 lakh tonne of cane to produce 107.194 lakh tonne in 2018-19. Cane cultivation in Marathwada would be the most affected and there would be hardly any cane for mills to start the next crushing season, Gaikwad said.

In Solapur, the area under cane cultivation is likely to go down to 1.27 lakh hectare in 2019-20. Last season, about 2.47 lakh hectare was under cane cultivation.

In Ahmednagar, the area under cane is expected to drop to 0.85 lakh hectare in 2019-20, against 1.29 lakh hectare. Similarly in Aurangabad, the area is likely to go down to 0.84 lakh hectare as compared to 1.42 lakh hectare in 2018-19. Pune division, too, is showing a drop in acreage from 2.24 lakh hectare to 1.94 lakh hectare. While Nanded and Nagpur all showed a dip in acreage to 0.82 lakh hectare and 0.11 lakh hectare, respectively, from1.42 lakh hectare and 0.13 lakh hectare, respectively. Only Kolhapur reveals a possible rise in area under cultivation to 2.51 lakh hectare, against 2.39 lakh hectare in 2018-19. Marathwada dams have just 3% water and thousands of villages are dependent on water tankers. This year 47 mills crushed 167.35 lakh tonne of cane in the Marathwada region.

The Commissioner said review meetings were held at the district level and the final call over cane availability would be taken in August, following which the production figures of the country would be updated. Unlike the previous season, when around 54 % of the available cane came from ratoon crop grown from the stubble of the previously harvested cane. This year, the portion of the ratoon crop is expected to be around 40 %, senior officials said. Gaikwad highlighted this was the first time in 30 years that almost all growers have received dues without delay. Around 94% of the Fair and Remunerative Price arrears have been paid to farmers.

Of the total payable FRP of `23,033 crore, mills have paid about `21, 604 crore to over 20 lakh cane growers in the state.

Over 93 mills have paid 100% FRP, 66 mills paid 80-99% of FRP payments, 25 mills paid 60-79% cane payments and 11 mills paid less than 69% dues to farmers.

Revenue and Recovery Code ( RRC) notices were issued to 73 mills, the highest number so far, in the state and stocks of three mills in Beed, Parbhani and Osmanabad regions have been sealed, he said.

The record FRP payments by mills was also possible due to soft loan granted by the Centre which had disbursed some `2,559.02 crore, Gaikwad said. A buffer subsidy grant of `116.31-crore export subsidy grant of `153.35 crore and `823.89 crore was released for cogen projects, he added.

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