For several decades, Maharashtra was the leader in sugarcane production, but in last two years, it has lost the premier status to BJP-controlled Uttar Pradesh. Alarmed by the unexpected fall, the state government on Thursday set up an 11-member committee headed by sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad to study sugarcane production scenario in Uttar Pradesh and measures to be taken to restore Maharashtra’s position as the leader state.
Besides Gaikwad, director of Vasantdada Sugar Cooperative Research Institute, Western India Cooperative Sugar Mills Federation and few organisations involved in production of sugar and cooperative sugar factories are members of the committee. UP’s spectacular progress is being viewed as a major challenge for sugar barons.
According to a bureaucrat, last year, sugarcane production in Maharashtra stood at106.3 lakh metric tonnes (MT) as against Uttar Pradesh’s 110.6 lakh MT, for next year, Maharashtra has projected 112 lakh MT against Uttar Pradesh’s 120 lac MT. “It’s a fact that unexpectedly Uttar Pradesh has surpassed us despite the fact that Maharashtra is among the pioneering states in sugarcane production. The committee is expected to study the Uttar Pradesh pattern and recommend if a similar experiment can be implemented in the state,” the bureaucrat said.
Elaborating on the Uttar Pradesh experiment, the bureaucrat said that in 2016-17, UP farmers used Coimbatore brand sugarcane plant to enhance production. Then it was found that the Coimbatore sugarcane size was almost two-third the size of the cane in Maharashtra. “Since the size of the sugarcane was huge, naturally, production of sugar too was very high. But in the recent past, it was found that it was affected by red rot disease. When we make attempts to enhance sugarcane production, we will have to examine that aspect too,’’ he said.
Further, the bureaucrat said that the committee will also examine the soils in Kanpur and Lucknow belts, where there is maximum sugarcane plantation. “By and large, in Uttar Pradesh’s sugar belt, its alluvial soil, which has capacity to sustain the tall sugarcane crop, whereas in Maharashtra, we mostly have black soil,” he pointed out.