Unlike Uttar Pradesh, sugar mills in Maharashtra are starting off the 2020-21 sugarcane crushing season with a clean slate after having cleared 99.51 per cent farmer dues.
As on September 30, mills that were to pay Rs 14,055.27 crore to their farmers in lieu of cane purchased have effected payment of Rs 14,099.42 crore with some mills paying more than the government stipulated Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) to their growers.
In Uttar Pradesh, however, mills have paid farmers only Rs 27,451.05 crore with dues to the tune of Rs 8,447.10 crore.
For the 2019-20 season, 145 mills in Maharashtra had crushed 550.29 lakh tonne (lt) of cane. Under the Sugarcane Control Order 1966, mills are stipulated to pay the FRP within 14 days of delivery of cane at the mill gate. The average FRP for Maharashtra (net of harvesting and transportation charges) works out to be Rs 2,150 per tonne of cane.
At the start of the next season, mills have cleared almost all their farmer dues. Some mills have paid in excess of their FRP to the tune of Rs 113.66 crore, according to the sugar commissioner’s office.
Of the 145 mills that have taken season, 134 have cleared 100 per cent dues with just 11 mills reporting cumulative dues of Rs 69.51 crore.
Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad told The Indian Express that mills are being issued crushing licence only if they have cleared the previous season’s dues. “Till date, we have received 160 applications and online crushing licence has been granted to 46 mills,” he said.
Balasaheb Patil, the minister of cooperation, had earlier declared that the state’s crushing season will start on October 15 but most mills are now expecting a delayed start. The sugar commissioner’s office says that at least 25-30 mills are expected to start on the scheduled date with most mills starting towards the end of October.
Maharashtra is expected to crush 900 lt of cane this season and produce over 100 lt of sugar.
Even before the start of the season, the industry had been urged to divert a substantial portion of its cane for production of ethanol. Former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had urged mills to divert at least 25 per cent of the standing cane for production of ethanol. Last season, Maharashtra was given a target of 78 crore litres of production but due to paucity of cane, mills had produced only 28 crore litres ethanol. This year, as against the target of 108 crore litres, mills are expected to produce 125-150 crore litres of the fuel additive.
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