Bumpy start to sugarcane crushing season for mills in Maharashtra

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02 November 2021, Maharashtra: About 54 sugar mills in Maharashtra have started the 2021-22 crushing season and have crushed 18.35 lakh tonnes (lt) sugarcane to produce 13.32 lakh quintals of sugar by November 1. 

Mills have reported a 7.26 per cent extract rate. 

However, according to reports many mills that have failed to pay Fair and Remunerative Prices (FRP) to farmers for the cane crushed last season are struggling to get crushing permission from the Sugar Commissioner office. Meanwhile, farmers’ organisations have threatened agitations demanding FRP in a single instalment. 

Pune and Kolhapur regions, considered as the sugar bowl of the State, have reported that 30 mills have started crushing operations. No sugar mill in the Nagpur region has started crushing, while only one sugar mill in the Amravati region is operational. There are 31 cooperative and 23 sugar mills operational in the State as of November 1.

As per the Sugar Commissioner office data as on October 15, about 36 mills have to pay ₹244.81 crore pending FRP to farmers and the Commissioner Office has already slapped RRC notice to 33 mills. The overall FRP pending is about ₹321.41 crore. According to sources, the mill directors are insisting on permission to start crushing season without paying pending FRP. About 190 mills had taken part in the last crushing season of which 154 mills have paid 100 per cent FRP. 

FRP controversy 

Former MP and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti said, “We had not agitated for the one-time FRP when sugar prices were low in the market. But today market rates are high and also mills are earning from by-products. Mills can definitely afford to pay FRP in one instalment”. He added that Shetkari Sanghatana will not allow mills to operate if a one-time FRP is not assured.

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