Image Credits: originenergy.com.au
Bijnor: It is not just sugarcane prices that have tumbled, the prices of molasses have also dipped, creating problems for both sugar mills and farmers. Till April last year, molasses fetched a price of Rs 450 a quintal. This year, it has fallen to just Rs 10-20 a quintal.
Molasses are used to manufacture alcohol, spirit and ethanol. At present, there are 119 sugar mills across UP and together they owe more than Rs 11,000 crore as dues to cane farmers.
This year, sugarcane and sugar production are higher than previous years. The area under cane cultivation increased from the existing 20.54 lakh hectare to 22.99 lakh hectare in UP, resulting in the rise of sugar production to 110 lakh tonnes against last year’s 88.7 lakh tonnes, So far, more than 1,000 lakh tonnes of cane has been crushed and is likely to reach 1,017 lakh tonnes — accounting for 26% estimated rise in sugar production in the current crushing season.
With sugar mills having achieved more than their crushing targets, 50 have already shut down. According UP Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), all mills were assigned a target of producing around 455 lakh quintals of molasses in the state by April 15. Like sugar, production of molasses has also increased.
Like sugar, prices of molasses have nosedived from Rs 450 to Rs 10-20 per quintal. Last year, in the month of April, it was Rs 450 to 500 per quintal.
Talking with TOI, administrative officer of Bijnor Sugar Mill said, “There are around 60 distilleries in the state. During the off season in April, May and June last year, around 50% distilleries were shut down following an order by the National Green Tribunal. As a result. molasses produced during last year’s crushing season could not be lifted. Besides, this time, the crushing season began around 10 to 15 days earlier than last year. Right now, distilleries are not operating at optimal capacity. This is the main reason for falling price of molasses.”
The molasses are lifted from factories after they get a permit from the excise department, which issues them one every 15 days. In this context, special secretary, UP, Bahadur Singh had written to excise commissioner to grant permission to distilleries for getting three months’ advance permit to lift molasses so that all distilleries could operate in full capacity and solve storage problem.
On its part, UP ISMA has demanded that reserved molasses be lifted from sugar mills. It wants the petroleum companies to increase their capacity for storing ethanol from distilleries