Lucknow: Faced with the glut of sugar and bumper cane crop during 2017-18 season, private sugar mills are directly reaching out to farmers in Uttar Pradesh and urging them to stop sowing sugarcane for 2018-19 and bring down area under cane cultivation.
Sugar Mills In UP Ask Farmers To Stop Sowing Sugarcane
The sugar industry has also stopped investing in cane development where they provide cane seed, insecticide and other agriculture inputs on credit or at subsidised rates to cane growers.
Sugarcane is the most popular cash crop in UP and the cane area has gone up by 12 per cent in 2017-18 season from 20.54 lakh hectares to 23 lakh hectares.
The industry invests in cane reserve area within a 16 sq km radius of the mill allotted to it by Cane department every year from where it gets cane supply during crushing season.
Private sugar mills are campaigning among farmers through direct contact, distributing handbills and other means.
Meanwhile, the cane dues of the farmers in UP has touched Rs 12,000 mark even as around 40 per cent of the mills are still crushing.
Recently, a report from Pilibhit said that when they cane farmers raised their problems before Union Minister and local BJP MP Menaka Gandhi, she directly asked the farmers that as the sugar price is going down so why they sow cane. "You can cultivate any other crop as the production of sugar is very high while the demand is going down," she had said. On the other hand a prominent sugar mill of west UP having three mills and a daily crushing capacity of 29,000 TCD, distillery and cogeneration of 80 MW, cautioned farmers that excess sugar production had created a glut and hence the price has crashed in open market, adversely affecting capacity of sugar mills to clear cane arrears.
The handbill warned farmers to `cut down area under cane cultivation so as to bring down its production and prevent the problem of delay in payment in the coming 2018-19 season. The bill also cautioned farmers that if they persisted with the area of cane cultivation in 2018-19, it would result in high sugar production and low market price.
Sugar Mills in their advisory to farmers said that those who have harvested wheat should not sow cane and for maintaining land fertility, they should sow pulses like Arhar, Moong and Urad.
The mill owners also asked farmers to destroy unapproved variety of cane sown as no mill would buy the variety in 2018-19. Against annual consumption of 2.30 crore MT sugar in India, production during this season is expected to be 3.25 crore MT. Sugar production in UP was 80 Lakh MT in last season which was likely to increase by 30 percent to 1.12 crore MT in 2017-18.
Glut caused by excess production has dented capacity of sugar mills to clear cane arrears which have crossed the Rs 12,000 crore mark. A sugar refinery officials said that against cost of production of Rs 3700 for one quintal of sugar, the ruling open market price was hovering around Rs 2,600-2,650 per quintal.
Incentives announced by Union government for promoting export to clear excess stock have not helped as price of sugar in international market have also crashed to Rs 2,200 per quintal. UNI