01 September 2021, New Delhi: A lesser number of sugar mills have functioned in Tamil Nadu during the current season on account of lower availability of cane.
Only 28 sugar mills — 12 in the co-operative sector, two in the public sector and 14 in the private sector — operated this season (October 2020-September 2021). There are 42 sugar mills in the State, of which 16 are in the co-operative sector; two in the public sector and 24 in the private sector.
Non-availability of high yielding new varieties, vagaries of monsoon, increase in cost of cultivation, paucity of farm labour and stagnant sugarcane price during the last four seasons contributed to low cane availability and low-capacity utilisation of Tamil Nadu sugar mills.
This resulted in higher cost of production and as a result, sugar mills in Tamil Nadu are facing acute financial crisis and are not able to pay the cane price to the farmers in time, said the Policy Note 2021-2022 on Industries Department (Major Industries).
However, by utilising the good rainfall (984.6 mm) received during 2020, Tamil Nadu government will take efforts to increase the sugarcane cultivation area to 1.25 lakh hectares during 2020-21 planting season.
Sugar mills in the State crushed 72.49 lakh tonnes (lt) of cane, with an average recovery of 9.12 per cent. They produced 6.67 lt of sugar during the season 2020-21 (up to May 31, 2021). The volume of sugarcane crushed by the mills is less than one-fifth of the record cane production of 389.75 lt in 2011-12.
Considering the quality of Co 11015 variety and to increase the recovery of sugar mills, an area of 20,000 hectares will be covered during the next planting season in all the command areas of the sugar mills. Further, new sugarcane varieties like CoG 6 and CoC 13339 are being multiplied in all sugar mill areas.
As sugarcane is a water-intensive crop, the Tamil Nadu government proposes to implement a micro irrigation scheme on 35,000 hectares by utilising subsidies extended by both the Union and State governments, the Policy Note said.
The sugar industry is the source of direct and indirect employment to the rural population through cane cultivation, harvesting, transport and allied services.