Sugar mills crush over 100 lakh tonne of unregistered cane in Maharashtra

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20 June 2022, New Delhi: The 2021-22 sugarcane crushing season for Maharashtra came to an end on Tuesday with Rajgad Cooperative Sugar Mill in Bhor taluka of Pune district being the last mill to end its operation.

Sugar mills in Maharashtra have crushed more than 100 lakh tonne of cane, which was not “registered” with any mill at the start of the season. This was mainly due to reluctance of farmers to register with any single mill and instead sell their cane to the mill that gives the highest price, Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad told The Indian Express on Wednesday.

The 2021-22 sugarcane crushing season for Maharashtra came to an end on Tuesday with Rajgad Cooperative Sugar Mill in Bhor taluka of Pune district being the last mill to end its operation. The season, which lasted for 173 days, saw 200 mills crushing 1,320.31 lakh tonne of cane and producing 137.27 lakh tonne of sugar. This would be the first time in the past 10 seasons when the crushing season had extended well into June. While this was the most cane crushed in the past 10 seasons, mills were stumped from March onward as their previous estimates of cane to be crushed started going wrong, especially mills in Marathwada, Solapur and Ahmednagar. Some mills had claimed an abnormal rise in per hectare yield was to blamed for this while others admitted that a large portion of cane had gone unregistered, which was to be blamed for the long season. Gaikwad said this season, they have seen per hectare yields rise from 80 tonne to 110 tonne. “Good soil moisture had helped crop growth,” he said. But the sugar commissioner’s office said more than 100 lakh tonne of cane had gone unregistered. “Farmers in many areas prefer not to register their cane with any particular mill. They instead decided to sell their cane to the mill that was providing the best payment. In this way, the cane escaped the net of estimates,” he said. Farmers generally register their cane with mills that draw up their harvesting calendar to ensure proper recovery of sugar. Unregistered cane is purchased as ‘gate cane’ for which farmers see more deduction in terms of harvesting and transportation charges. Given the abnormally high amount of unregistered cane, Maharashtra had to revise its estimates several times. The first estimate that was issued by the sugar commissioner’s office in September 2021 was a modest 110 lakh tonne – a far cry from the final figure of 137.27 lakh tonnes.

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