SISMA (Karnataka) appeals to government to restore production of ethanol from sugarcane juice and B-Heavy molasses

The South Indian Sugar Mills Association (Karnataka) wrote to Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra, requesting the government to reconsider its order restricting the use of sugarcane juice and B-Heavy molasses for ethanol production.

In early December, the Food Ministry directed sugar mills not to use cane juice or syrup to produce ethanol. However, in a U-turn in mid-December, the central government allowed the utilization of juice as well as B-heavy molasses to produce ethanol but capped the diversion of sugar at 17 lakh tonnes for the current supply year (against the earlier 35 LMT diversion).

SISMA (Karnataka) held a core committee meeting on January 4, 2024, where various issues related to the sugar and ethanol industry were discussed. In a letter, the sugar body stated, “As you may be aware, sugarcane production has increased due to intermittent winter rains, and we expect that Karnataka will produce around 50 lakh tonnes of sugar as against the earlier estimated 42 lakh tonnes. Our members informed that they were estimating season closure by the first week of Feb 2024; however, now the revised closure estimated dates are between 25th Feb 2024 and 10th March 2024.

“Due to restrictions on the production of Juice, Ethanol, and B-Heavy ethanol, the crushing rate has also reduced. This is creating a lot of stress among cane farmers, and they are continuously approaching the mills to expedite the crush rate as the standing cane crop is getting dry,” the letter further reads.

SISMA (Karnataka) also mentioned that sugar prices have already dropped significantly in Karnataka. With the higher FRP this year and due to inflation, the cost of sugar production has increased by about 10-15%, adversely affecting the paying capacity of the mills, and there is concern that sugarcane dues will start building up again.

Expressing concern about piled stocks, the sugar body said, “Many of our member factories are carrying stocks of Juice Ethanol, B-Heavy Ethanol, B-Heavy molasses, Syrup, etc. The restriction on the production of ethanol from these raw materials is a big setback for the mills, and they are in a fix about how to liquidate these inventories and pay the cane price to the farmers. In view of the hardship faced by the industries, we request you to kindly allow the stock of B-heavy Ethanol and Juice ethanol ready in the factories to be taken by OMC without further delay. The stock of B-heavy syrup/Bio syrup, etc., should be deemed produced Ethanol from these raw materials, and OMC should lift the production quickly.

SISMA (Karnataka) urged the government that Juice, Ethanol, B-heavy Ethanol, B-heavy Molasses, etc., have already been produced and cannot be converted to sugar. Therefore, logically, these should go for Ethanol blending.

“Since all India Sugar production is improving by 15-20 Lacs MT as compared to the earlier estimates, we request the Government to allow the production of Juice and B-Heavy ethanol urgently, as we have little time left for production before the closer of the season 23-24,” it further concluded.



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