PUNE: Maharashtra is expected to have over 100 lakh tonnes of sugarcane uncrushed during the 10-11 season, which begins in October. Total sugarcane
production is estimated to be 850 lakh tonnes. This excess cane is proving to be a saviour for several of the sick cooperative mills which will get government funds to crush the excess cane in the forthcoming season.
During the 09-10 sugar season, 126 cooperative and private sugar mills crushed cane in Maharashtra and the government will operationalise 20-22 sick cooperative mills to handle the surplus cane, the state’s cooperation minister Harshvardhan Patil said.
He indicated that it would cost less to revive sick mills than pay compensation to farmers for the uncrushed cane. He pointed out that compensation to farmers for 100 lakh tonnes would be in excess of Rs 350 crore.
Instead, the state government would prefer to spend the money to restart the sick mills. overnment support will come in the form of bank guarantee, one-time settlement of bank dues and by leasing these mills to other operating mills.
“Even if we extend the sugar season in Maharashtra till June 2011, we will not be able to crush the entire 850 lakh tonnes. Our estimate is that 100 lakh tonnes will remain uncrushed, given the existing crushing capacity in the state,” Mr Patil told reporters here on Wednesday.
There are 67 sugar mills lying idle and the state government is keen to revive 20-22 mills. During 09-10, Maharashtra crushed 665 lakh tonnes cane to produce 709 lakh quintal sugar at 11.54% recovery. Cane production last year was 30% higher than the earlier estimates of 425 lakh tonnes and cane on 350 hectares still remains to be crushed. Three mills are still crushing cane despite the onset of monsoon.
Sugar cane has been planted on 10 lakh hectare area in the state in 2010-11 with yields projected at over 850 lakh tonnes. The state has a daily crushing capacity of 6.40 lakh tonnes.