Around 50 sugar mills in Maharashtra may not crush sugarcane in 2019-2020 crushing season

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Pune: Due to lack of sugarcane scarcity 50 sugar mills in Maharashtra are likely not to participate in the 2019-20 season.,  A total of 195 sugar mills participated in the operation this season. According to the Sugar Commissionerate report, the factories have crushed 951.79 lakh tonnes of sugarcane to produce 107.19 lakh tonnes of sugar at a recovery rate of 11.26 per cent.

Flood in Pune, Sangli, Satara, Solapur and Kolhapur districts, the sugar belt of Maharashtra, have majorly hit the sugarcane crops, which will ultimately be going to impact the sugarcane production in Maharashtra. Also, farmers have uprooted sugarcane in the severely drought-affected regions of the state to feed their animals as other green fodders were not available. In Marathwada, Vidarbha, and Khandesh around 5 per cent of sugarcane have been diverted as a fooder, whereas in Western Maharashtra, only leaves and top part of sugarcane which does not contain any sucrose content has been diverted.

According to the WISMA president, BB Thombare, “Around 35 sugar mills from Marathwada region, which have been affected by drought, and 15-20 mills in Solapur region may not be able to crush cane in the coming season.”

The unavailability of sugarcane will not only hamper sugar mills, but it will also affect overall sugarcane production in the state. The Maharashtra sugar production was expected to be around 70 to 75 lakh tonne in the crushing season 2019-2020, but experts believe it may fall to 12 to 15 per cent after the flood. It will also impact the crushing period due to less availability of sugarcane.

Answering on how many sugar mills will go for crushing in 2019-2020, Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said that the picture will become clear when the Commissionerate takes stock of the number of mills that apply for crushing licences for the season. The last date for the crushing licenses is August 31, but it may be extended.

Also, sugar millers are asking for the crushing season to be delayed, which will give the standing cane crop in western Maharashtra as well as drought-hit Marathwada time to recover. ISMA president said instead of starting the crushing season on October 1; the season should start on November 15.

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