Maharashtra: Sugarcane crushing to start from November 22
Maharashtra’s sugarcane crushing season for 2019-20 is all set to start from November 22. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who presided over a meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday on the issue, gave his consent to start the season on that date. This will be the most delayed start to the crushing season.
The political uncertainty in the state had cast its shadow on the start of crushing as, in the absence of the state Cabinet, the decision could not be taken. Maharashtra is the only sugar producing state where the Cabinet decides the start of crushing. As the political impasse dragged on, sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad had suggested November 25 for crushing to begin.
This season, Maharashtra is set to crush 580 lakh tonnes of cane and produce around 58 lakh tonnes of sugar. Maharashtra’s cane acreage has dipped from 11.01 lakh hectares in 2018-19 to 8.53 lakh hectares.
Last season, the state had produced a record 107.1 lakh tonnes of sugar. Bumper crops for the last two years has meant that the present season in the country has started with a record stock of over 145 lakh tonnes of the sweetener, which the industry said has almost ruled out any chances of price appreciation.
Most millers have turned cold towards production of ethanol as the prevailing prices of molasses has taken the parity off the fuel additive. A final call on diversion of cane juice or sugar into ethanol would be taken post January keeping in view the international markets and molasses prices.
Sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh, which started their season almost a month ago, have cornered almost 65 per cent of the 120 lakh tonnes of export contracts signed till date. Maharashtra mills have been urged to export both raw and white sugar in order to reduce unsold inventory to push up the domestic sugar prices.
Meanwhile, cane growers affiliated to farmers’ union Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana continued their agitation to force millers not to start crushing till a decision is reached on cane payment. Former MP and Sanghtana chief Raju Shetti is expected to announce a decision on cane pricing on November 23 at the annual Oosh Parishad in Kolhapur.