April 16, 2021 12:30:59 am
Maharashtra’s sugar season is expected to end on May 31, as per a forecast by Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad. As of April 15, Maharashtra has crushed 991.27 lakh tonnes of sugarcane and produced 103.86 lakh tonnes of sugar. Unlike the previous estimates, Maharashtra is expected to end the season producing 105-17 lakh tonnes of sugar, with mills in Marathwada being the last to end their crushing season.
Based on cane availability and date of crushing, Maharashtra’s cane crushing season is expected to be more than 100 days. On an average, mills have seen their crushing season extending between 120 and 130 days, with cane being in abundance across the state. Some of the mills in the districts of Ahmednagar and Satara have registered more than 170 days of crushing season.
Interestingly, mills in the otherwise drought-prone Marathwada region would be the last to end their season. Most mills in the sugar bowl districts of Kolhapur and Sangli have already ended their season. Majority of the mills in Pune and Satara have either ended their season or are in the last leg of their season. Of the 187 mills, which had started their operations, 136 mills have already ended their season.
It is the mills in Marathawada which have continued crushing operations despite the scorching summer and increasing Covid-19 cases. The combine crushing of Sagar and Samarth, the two cooperative mills in Ambad and Ghansawangi taluka of Jalna district managed by Maharashtra’s Health Minister Rajesh Tope’s family, has already crossed 11.50 lakh tonnes and 4 lakh tonnes of cane remain to be crushe.
Last season, these two mills have not even seen half the amount of crushing. Bajirao Tukaram Pawase, senior official of both the mills, admitted that they were struggling to keep pace with increased cane availability. “This has become a regular affair… as soon as there is ample water availability, farmers in our area go for cane,” he said.
While production has been good, sugar sales has been a greater worry for mills, with most struggling to meet their monthly sales quota. Most mills foresee problems in the next season with excess sugar on their hand.
As of March 31, sugar mills in the state have procured and crushed 908.49 lakh tonnes of cane, for which they had to pay farmers a total Fair and Remunerative Price of Rs 20,122.32 crore. But mills have managed to pay a total of Rs 17,869.17 crore, thus running up arrears worth of Rs 2,266.49 crore. Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad has issued recovery notices against 17 mills for failing to pay farmers on time.
State asks sugar mills to use premises for vaccination camps
Sugar mills have been asked to coordinate with the Health department to use their premises for vaccination camps. Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad has asked mills to provide the necessary infrastructure to conduct such camps once their season is over.
Gaikwad, in his order, has asked both cooperative and private mills to provide the necessary space for the vaccination process. Located in the rural heartlands, the mills can help the vaccine reach areas not serviced by government or private healthcare providers.
Most mills have a primary health centre attached to its area, which allows them access to some form of health infrastructure. Bhairavnath B Thombare, chairman of the West Indian Sugar Mills Association, the umbrella body of private sugar millers in the district, said they have written to the district collector to allow vaccination in their premises.
“Mills can act as the central point of nearby villages and thus help the vaccine reach maximum amount of people,” he said.
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