Maharashtra mills started the 2021-22 sugarcane crushing season on October 15, 2021, and till today 189 sugar mills have produced 465.2 lakh quintals of sugar, which is about 44 per cent of the 1,063 lakh quintal sugar production in the last crushing season ( 2020-21).
Sugar mills, including 95 cooperative mills and 94 private mills, have crushed 479.85 lakh MT sugarcane with an extract rate of 9.69 per cent. Only six sugar mills have started operations in the Vidarbha region of the State while the Solapur region has the highest (44) operational mills. However, the Kolhapur region with 35 operational mills has crushed the highest amount of sugarcane (115.94 lakh MT) and reported the highest sugar production of 127.60 lakh quintal with 11.01 per cent extract rate, which is highest in the State compared to other regions.
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The Sugar Commissioner Office has already predicted a record high sugar production this season. The area under sugarcane cultivation has increased this season to nearly 12.5 lakh hectares, from 11.42 lakh hectares in 2020-21.
Will mills crush all sugarcane?
Sugarcane glut has worried farmers who fear that some mills may not be able to crush all sugarcane in their locality. In South Maharashtra, villages bordering Karnataka have already started sending their sugarcane to Kagwad and other parts of Karnataka. Many sugarcane farmers in the Kolhapur region sent their sugarcane to Karnataka factories for crushing and this season the quantity of sugarcane going to Karnataka is certain to increase.
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With the number of Covid-19 and Omicron patients rising in the State, farmers are urging sugar mills to lift their cane for crushing before further restrictions are in place. Further restrictions by the government to stop sped of the virus would affect the availability of sugarcane cutters.
In many places, farmers have already been complaining that sugarcane cutter contractors are asking for additional money to make available sugarcane cutters.