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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Explained: Sugarcane in the politics of Uttar Pradesh — areas, seats, and arrears

Uttar Pradesh is the country's biggest sugarcane growing and producing state. What is the issue of sugarcane arrears in UP?

Written by Harikishan Sharma , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: January 30, 2022 12:58:15 pm
Uttar Pradesh is the country's biggest sugarcane growing and producing state | Express photo by Praveen Khanna

As the campaign for the multi-phase UP Assembly elections gathers pace, the issue of sugarcane arrears due to farmers has become important. What is the significance of the sugarcane belt in the politics of UP?

How much sugarcane does UP grow?

Uttar Pradesh is the country’s biggest sugarcane growing and producing state. In 2020-21, there were 27.40 lakh hectares under sugarcane in UP.

The state reported sugarcane production of 22.32 crore tonnes in the last sugar season (October 2020-September 2021). According to the UP government, there were 120 sugar mills in the state during 2020-21.

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What is the sugar season in the state?

The sugarcane crop can take anywhere from 10-18 months to mature. However, a variety that matures in 12 months is grown widely in the country.

In UP, the sowing of sugarcane begins in October-November, and harvesting takes place during October-December of the following year. In some places the harvesting of the crop may continue up to February of the year after.

What is the issue of sugarcane arrears in UP?

Out of the 22.32 crore tonnes of sugarcane produced in UP during 2020-21, 10.27 crore tonnes were crushed to produce 110.59 lakh tonnes of sugar.

As per official figures, sugarcane farmers in the state were required to be paid Rs 33,014 crore during 2020-21, of which Rs 31,742.87 — 96.15 per cent — had been paid until Thursday (January 27, 2022), leaving unpaid arrears of just Rs 1,271 crore.

However, this amount does not include the dues for the current sugar season.

During the current sugar season — 2021-22 — a total 4.77 crore tonnes of sugarcane, valued at about Rs 13,530 crore, has been procured for crushing, and an amount of Rs 9,352.09 crore (69.12 per cent) has been paid to sugarcane farmers until January 27, 2022.

Thus, about Rs 4,168 crore are due to farmers for the current year’s payment.

Does this mean that arrears is not a big issue at the moment?

According to sources in the Union Food Ministry, sugarcane arrears were at one of the lowest levels in UP during 2020-21. Last year’s arrears are expected to come down further to Rs 200-300 crore in a week’s time, the sources said.

The UP government recently passed the Uttar Pradesh Ganna (Poorti Tatha Khareed Viniyaman) (Dwitiya Sanshodhan) Adhiniyam, 2021 that provides additional powers to government officials to recover sugarcane dues from the sugar mills.

The data show that the quantity of sugarcane crushing has increased to 10.27 crore tonnes in 2020-21 from 8.27 crore tonnes in 2016-17.

Which are the ‘sugarcane constituencies’ of UP?

While sugarcane is grown in most parts of the state, 27 districts — Kheri, Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Sitapur, Saharanpur, Meerut, Bareilly, Gonda, Baghpat, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kushi Nagar, Shamli, Bulandshahr, Moradabad, Hardoi, Balrampur, Basti, Shahjahanpur, Hapur, Sambhal, Rampur, Budaun, Bahraich, Ghaziabad, Faizabad and Maharajganj — reported an area more than 20,000 hectares under sugarcane during 2018-19.

This sprawling sugarbelt elects roughly 150 members to the 403-member state Assembly. About 40 lakh families are engaged in sugarcane farming in the state.

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