19 February 2021, New Delhi, IN: Though the sugar industry has projected a higher production this season (October 2020-September 2021), some mills have ended their crushing operations due to non-availability of sugarcane.
However, the closure of the mills will not affect sugar production in any way, according to the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Limited (NFCSF).
The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), which issued a statement on Thursday saying that sugar production is higher so far this season, reported that 33 mills have ended their operations compared with 20 during the same period a year ago. According to ISMA, 497 sugar mills have crushed sugarcane during the current season against 447 last year.
“The mills that have stopped operations are from specific pockets across the States where the availability of sugarcane is lower. But this is not the case with other areas. There is excess sugarcane available and a majority of mills will not face any shortage,” Prakash Naiknavare, MD, NFCSF, told BusinessLine.
Abinash Verma, ISMA Director-General, said: “There is area-specific availability of cane. Some areas have more and some have less, hence a few mills close early”.
According to ISMA’s second advance estimates, mills across States are expected to produce 30.2 million tonnes (mt) of sugar during 2020-21 sugar season. Last season, the production was 27.42 mt. Two sugar mills in Maharashtra and four in Uttar Pradesh have closed their operations. Interestingly, in Karnataka, of the 66 sugar mills which went for crushing this season, 17 have stopped crushing as on February 15. Last year in the same period, out of 63 sugar mills which operated, 13 sugar mills had ended their crushing operations. Along with these States, four mills in Bihar, three in Punjab, two in Telangana and one in Chhattisgarh have ended operations.
“There is a shortage of cane cutters in sugar bowl of western Maharashtra. There is a bumper sugarcane crop in the region and many farmers are sending their cane to mills in Karnataka,” says Kolhapur-based farmer Raju Chougule.
Ganpatrao Sawant, Director of Sangli-based Vasantdada sugar mill said that every year more and more sugar mills are cropping up in areas where there is not much sugarcane available. “Every politician wants to have a sugar mill and hence you can see mills in areas where there is no cane cultivation,” he said.
Our New Delhi Bureau adds: Sugar mills in the country produced close to 209 lt of sugar till February 15 — nearly 23 per cent more than the 170 lt during the corresponding period last year, ISMA said on Thursday.
While mills in Maharashtra produced 75.46 lt of sugar against 43.38 lt last year, the sugar output from Uttar Pradesh was at 65.13 lt(66.34 lt).