Maharashtra is facing a problem of plenty. Around 9 million tonne of sugarcane still remain to be crushed in the final leg of the sugar season. Sugar commisisoner Shekhar Gaikwad said the state is likely to produce around 13.2 million tonne of sugar for the sugar season of 2021-22. Maharashtra has crushed more than 116 million tonne of cane so far and around 9 million tonne still remain to be crushed, he said. The state had previously reported its highest production in the 2018-19 season at 10.7 million tonne and has already diverted 1.2-1.5 million tonne of sugar towards ethanol production.
Officials from the sugar commisisoner’s office said that around 60 harvesters are being sent to areas with excess cane to be able to complete crushing since cane workers are finding it difficult to harvest in the summer heat. Around 197 mills have participated in the crushing operations this season.
The initial estimate of the sugar commissionerate regarding sugarcane available in the state in the current season was around 110 million tonne. However, after realising that sugarcane was more than expected, the figure went up to 12 million tonne. Now, due to the abundance of sugarcane in parts of Marathwada region, the total availability of sugarcane is now assumed to be more than 125 million tonne. The Commissioner’s office said that harvesters from Kolhapur, Sangli, Karnataka are now being sent to Beed, Jalna, Latur, Nanded.
Some of the factories are likely to run for another one and half months to complete crushing.
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who held a review meet on Friday, directed the sugar commissioner to take harvesters of mills that have complete crushing operations on a lease basis to complete crushing operations in a short time. Crushing in the sugar belt of western Maharashtra will continue by next month-end.
Meanwhile, the West Indian Sugar Mills Association (Wisma) has asked for a state government grant to transport and crush the excess sugarcane.
Wisma in a letter to the state government has demanded a grant for sugarcane transportation and loss in the extract percentage. The state government has assured farmers that all sugarcane standing in the fields will be crushed and the government will take every possible step to ensure this.
BB Thombare, President of WISMA, said about 15 to 20 lakh ton of excess sugarcane would be left without crushing in the Marathwada region by May 31. Sugar mills in this region are facing a major challenge to cut and transport this sugarcane due to scarcity of labour.