Sugarcane as fodder to affect sugar output in Maharashtra

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Kolhapur: Weak monsoon across Maharashtra has impacted the lives of farmers as they are suffering from the water scarcity. It has also led to the unavailability of fodder, which continues to haunt farmers. Now, they are relying on cash crops for fodder.

Farmers are expressing their inability in finding fodder for the animals. According to our ground investigation, farmers have started uprooting sugarcane in the severely drought-affected regions of the state to feed their animals as other green fodders are not available. The Marathwada region is drastically affected by the fodder scarcity.

As per the reports, as many regions in the state is reeling under the drought; therefore state government has sponsored fodder camps where the cattle can be fed. Sugarcane contractors are encashing this opportunity as they buy sugarcane from farmers and sell it to the government by earning extra margins. They are purchasing sugarcane at the rate of Rs 4 to Rs 5 per kg from farmers, whereas according to FRP, cane growers get Rs 2.75 per kg considering 10 per cent sugar recovery rate.

There are more than ten lakh cows and buffaloes under these camps. The fodder camps will operate till August 1. Speaking about the requirement, a fully-grown animal needs at least 15-20 kgs of fodder every day.

In Marathwada, Vidarbha, and Khandesh 5 per cent of sugarcane has 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. It is also expected to hit sugarcane growth in the state, which will ultimately hamper the sugar output. In next season, it is expected that sugarcane cultivation will be down by 40 per cent due to various reasons such as drought, less cane plantation, low yield and other reasons. In the crushing season 2018-2019, the state produced 107.19 lakh tonnes sugar, and according to reports, in the season 2019-2020, barely 65 lakh tonnes of sugar is likely to be produced.

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