Maharashtra’s 2020-21 sugar season has come to an end, with the state producing 106.3 lakh tonne of sugar after crushing 1,012 lakh tonne of cane with a sugar recovery of 10.50%, officials of the Maharashtra Sugar Commissionerate said.
Around 190 sugar mills, including 95 cooperative and 95 private mills, participated in the crushing season, operating for an average of 140 days. The state had produced a record 107 lakh tonne of sugar in the 2018-19 season.
Sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said sugarcane was cultivated on 11.42 lakh hectares for the 2020-21 season, compared to 8.22 lakh hectares in 2019-20. The planting area for the 2021-22 season is yet to be assessed, he said. According to rough estimates, the state may see cane cultivation on at least 12 lakh hectares, he said, adding that farmers are shifting from other crops to sugarcane because of guaranteed income.
Kolhapur, Ahmednagar and Pune regions accounted for more than 50% of the state’s total production. Drought-prone regions of Aurangabad, Nanded, Amravati and Nagpur produced 197 lakh quintal sugar, which is 19% of the total state production. A total of 53 mills had started crushing operations in these drought-prone regions.
Around 37 mills from Kolhapur crushed 231 lakh tonne of cane to produce 277 lakh quintals of sugar with a sugar recovery rate of 12%, while 31 mills from Pune crushed 231 lakh tonne of cane and produced 253 lakh tonne of sugar with a recovery of 10.97%. This season, 43 mills from Solapur crushed 176 lakh tonne sugarcane to produce 165 lakh tonne of sugar with a recovery rate of 9.38%.
Gaikwad said that as of May 15, sugar mills in the state owed farmers `1,458.73 crore after making fair and remunerative price (FRP) payments of `21,429.35 crore (nearly 93.63% of the total FRP payments owed to farmers). The state has issued revenue recovery certificate (RRC) orders to 19 mills that failed to make even part payments to farmers. Gaikwad said RRCs will be issued to other mills from Marathwada.
Following the orders, district collectors have the authority to attach assets, including the sugar mills and the produce. Funds collected from the auction can be used to pay farmers’ dues.
The commissioner said sugar stocks with the mills could be in the range of 50 lakh tonne as on date. This year, around 10 lakh tonne of sugar was diverted towards ethanol and the target is to divert 15 lakh tonne in the next season, he said.