Farmers' stir: UP plans to advance sugarcane crushing season to Oct 15

The state’s annual sugarcane economy is pegged at nearly Rs 50,000 crore
Amid the stir by farmers over the steps taken by the Centre in the agricultural space, the Uttar Pradesh government has announced an early start of the cane crushing operations, from October 15, to keep the farmers happy.

UP is the country’s top sugar and cane producer, and had logged 12.65 million tonnes (MT) of sugar output in the last 2019-20 crushing season. The quantity was more than 45 per cent of India’s sugar production of 27.2 MT.

The state’s annual sugarcane economy is pegged at nearly Rs 50,000 crore. According to preliminary estimates, UP has a bumper cane crop in 2020-21 season spanning 2.29 million hectares (MH).

UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, during a meeting with farmers under the aegis of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) at his official residence yesterday, said the state was ‘sensitive’ to the interests of the sugarcane farmers.

Claiming his government had facilitated highest sugarcane payment to farmers, the CM announced the Western and Eastern UP sugar mills would start crushing operations from October 15 and 25 respectively. “The timely start of the crushing would also give the farmers ample time for the successive wheat sowing season for optimising the farm income.”

There are 119 operational sugar mills in UP, of which 94 are operated by the private sector players, including biggies such as Bajaj Hindusthan, Balrampur Chini, Dalmia Groups etc.

Meanwhile, a sugar industry official, requesting anonymity, told Business Standard the crushing season in UP was expected early compared to last season since there was an estimate of a bumper crop, although he expressed doubts on the October 15 date as announced by the CM.

“My estimate is that the crushing operations in UP would start by the end of October, which would still be 2-3 weeks early compared to the 2019-20 crushing cycle,” he claimed.

In his interaction with the farmers, Adityanath lauded the contribution of the UP sugar industry in the fight against covid-19 by augmenting hand sanitiser production for general supply, although 50 per cent sugar mills in other states were closed during the lockdown.

According to a preliminary report of the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), the domestic sugar production was estimated at 30.5 MT in 2020-21, which would be 12 per cent higher than 27.2 MT in 2019-20. UP is estimated to have sugar output of 12.3 MT.

These projections were made by the ISMA based on the satellite images taken in June 2020 and assuming normal rainfall. The pan India cane acreage was pegged at 5.23 MH in 2020-21, 8 per cent higher than 2019-20’s cropped area of 4.84 MH.

Due to higher cane availability and surplus sugar, it was estimated that a higher quantity of cane juice and B-molasses will get diverted for ethanol in UP, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

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