Surgarcane cultivation is expected to come down significantly in kharif season, thanks to the closure of two sugar crushing units in Vizianagaram district in the last couple of years. Bhimasingi Cooperative Sugar Factory and NCS Sugars, a private unit, at Sitanagaram have halted their operations due continuous losses and non-availability of adequate sugarcane.
Currently, the sugarcane growers in the district are dependent on a private sugar factory located on Rajam-Palakonda road, but are burdened by heavy transportation charges as the unit is located at a long distance.
The sugarcane crop area which was around 20,000 hectares earlier had come down to 4,505 hectares in 2022 and may further fall to 3,500 hectares in 2023 kharif, opine some experts and farmers.
Many farmers shifted to growing lucrative sugarcane which fetched around ₹30,000 per acre compared to ₹12,000-15,000 per acre earned through paddy. However, things have turned full circle due to the rising cost of sugarcane harvesting and transportation and lack of demand due to closure of the processing units. “I have shifted to paddy from sugarcane last year as there were no takers for the produce with the closure of the Bhimasingi sugar factory,” says Y. Pydinaidu of S. Kota mandal in the district.
The district Joint Director of Agriculture V.T. Ramarao says the government has been taking steps to ensure a better price for sugarcane growers by holding talks with the factory management. The company had offered ₹2,730 per tonne last year. “The department will take due care to ensure the best price for sugarcane this year too if farmers are willing to increase the crop area,” Mr. Ramarao tells The Hindu.
Govt. intervention sought
Lok Satta Party State president Beesetti Babji, who organised a series of meetings for the reopening of the Bhimasingi sugar factory, wants the government to take steps for the revival of the crushing unit, which needs a technology upgrade. The sugar factories will spur local economic activity and help farmers earn more income. “Compared to paddy and other crops, sugarcane gives more returns. The revival of the factories will also help many workers get back their jobs in the units,” he says.