October 25, 2020 12:30:22 am
Maharashtra’s 2020-21 sugarcane crushing season is slated for a delayed start as waterlogged fields have made harvesting of the standing cane very difficult. Not a single sugar mill has started the season so far in the state.
In view of a bumper crop, sugar mills in Maharashtra were permitted to start their season by October 15 so as to complete their operations on time. The state sugar commissioner has estimated about 11 lakh hectares (lh) of land under cane cultivation with 874 lakh tonnes (lt) of cane being available for crushing. The state is expected to produce 99 lt of the sweetener.
Till date, the sugar commissioner’s office has issued 128 licences while 71 are still in the pipeline. However, not a single mill has started the season with most millers talking about a delayed start to their operations. This is mainly due to the heavy rains that have led to waterlogging in the fields. In the main cane belt of Western Maharashtra, the waterlogged fields are not accessible to harvesting labourers, which has put a stop to plans of an early start to the season.
Meanwhile, another reason for the delayed start to the season is the non arrival of harvesting labourers from Marathwada and North Maharashtra to sugar mills. With rains delaying harvesting in those areas, most labourers are yet to come to the mills for harvesting. Majority of the labourers are expected to reach the mill sites post Diwali, after which the crushing season would start.
Maharashtra’s cane commissioner has been issuing licences to mills that have cleared their dues. Mills have paid 99.59 per cent of their fair and remunerative price (FRP) dues in the state. Of the total Rs 14,197.85 crore FRP dues, mills have paid Rs 14,096.81 crore till date. Only 10 mills have unpaid dues, which the commissioner’s office said, they hope will be cleared before the season starts.
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