Maharashtra faces sugarcane glut

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28 February 2022, New Delhi: Sugarcane glut is emerging as a serious problem for mills and farmers in Maharashtra as the season is drawing to a close. In the last sugar season, only 189 sugar mills were operational in the State by February 25. These sugar mills had crushed 80.471 million tonnes (mt) of sugarcane as sugar season was ending. 

This season, 197 sugar mills are operational and have crushed 91.607 mt of sugarcane and still, there is more to come. According to sources, there is around 30 mt of sugarcane still on the fields. 

Last season mills in the State had produced 8.237 mt of l sugar by February 25, while this season the sugar production has already crossed 9.38 mt. 

Mills in a quandary

Considering the glut, mills have increased their daily crushing capacity and many mill directors say now it would not be possible for them to run operations beyond certain period. 

“The government should understand the ground reality. Mills have limitations to continue crushing operations. The available mechanism is capable of crushing only to a certain limit,” said an official associated with one of the sugar mills in Sangli district. 

According to industry players, many mills have already crossed their crushing capacity and somehow are dragging on the season. But this may not continue for a long and mills will have to announce the closure. Only a few big sugar mills in the State will be able to operate until the next month-end. 

State’s warning 

The Sugar Commissioner of Maharashtra has already warned of action against mills which fail to lift all available sugarcane in the allocated locality. The State government has asked mills to take permission before announcing closures for the season. 

The government has warned that the director boards of the sugar mills will be held responsible for uncrushed sugarcane. In case mills are unable to crush the excess sugarcane, the director board should co-ordinate with other mills so that farmers can divert their sugarcane to them. At any cost, mills cannot leave farmers in the lurch, the government has warned. 

Farmers worried 

Farmer organizations, especially in western Maharashtra, w the sugar bowl of the State, say sugar mills are not responding to their calls to lift the sugarcane from their field. 

“Farmers are actually struggling to connect with mills and requesting them to dispatch sugarcane cutter teams to the fields. Even sugarcane cutters are not responding,” said Ramesh Sawant, a farmer. 

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