Sugar mills to rely on mechanised sugarcane harvesting

Maharashtra: The lack of cane cutting labours due to coronavirus pandemic has forced the sugar mills to go for harvesting machines. In crushing season 2020-21, the sugar mills are likely to emphasise on harvesting machines rather than depending on the labours for cutting sugarcane crop. Presuming the labour shortage the sugar mills from across the country are moving to mechanized harvesting.

In Maharashtra, around 6.50 lakh cane harvesters are engaged in cane crushing activities. But due to corona, and protest from cane cutters organisation in the state for their various demands, it is uncertain whether they will participate in the crushing season.

According to the media report, the sugar mills in Maharashtra are focusing on harvesting machines to reduce dependency on cane cutters.

According to ISMA, Maharashtra’s net cane area has gone up by about 43% in 2020-21 SS, which is mainly due to above normal SW and NE monsoon in 2019, followed by normal rainfall from January to March’ 2020. As against the net cane area of 7.76 lakh ha. in 2019-20 SS, area is expected to increase to 11.12 lakh ha in 2020-21. It is noteworthy that during the current 2019-20 SS around 0.5 lakh ha cane area was completely lost due to floods in July- August 2019. Sugar production is, therefore, estimated to be around 101.34 lakh tonnes in 2020-21 SS, as against 61.61 lakh tonnes produced in 2019-20 SS, i.e. higher by about 39.73 lakh tonnes.

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