04 March 2021, New Delhi, IN: Sugar mills (502) across in the country have produced 233.77 lakh tonne of sugar till February 28, 2021, compared to 194.82 lakh tonne by 453 mills in the same period last season, showing an increase of nearly 20%.
The increase has mainly been driven by Maharashtra’s stunning 67% increase in production over last year. Its 188 sugar mills produced 84.85 lakh tonne of sugar in the 2020-21 season, compared to 50.70 lakh tonne produced by 145 mills in the corresponding period last year.According to a release by industry body ISMA, Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, clocked lower sugar output at 74.20 lakh tonne till February of this marketing year, compared with 76.86 lakh tonne in the previous year.
Moreover, as many as 98 sugar mills across the country ended their operations by February 28, 2021. Last year, 70 sugar mills had closed their crushing operations as on February 29. Of the closed mills, 12 ended crushing in Maharashtra due to non-availability of cane in their area, most of them in the Solapur region, while 11 mills have stopped their crushing operations in UP, most of them in the eastern region. In Karnataka, 52 mills have already ended their crushing.
Raising concern over ex-mill prices of sugar showing a downward trend in most of the states, ISMA said average prices in Tamil Nadu are hovering between Rs 3,200 and Rs 3,225 per quintal, while in northern states, it is in the range of Rs 3,160–3,180 per quintal.
“The current prices are almost Rs 80-100 per quintal less than that what was prevailing a year back during the corresponding period… and this is not a good sign,” it said, adding that low sugar prices, much below the cost of production for last several months, have adversely affected the liquidity of mills and their ability to pay the FRP to cane farmers. “It is feared that if such situation persists, cane price arrears will jump very fast to uncomfortable levels.”
ISMA recommended an upward revision of sugar MSP, which was last revised two years back when the FRP of sugarcane was at Rs 275 per quintal. “Since the government has already increased the FRP of sugarcane by Rs 10 per quintal for the current year, there is a need to increase the MSP of sugar to Rs 34.50 per kg after considering the increased FRP of sugarcane for 2020-21. There is need to quickly decide on increasing the MSP of sugar to ensure that sugar mills are able to pay to farmers on time,” the association said.