The sugar industry is in for sweeter days this year, thanks to a good crop of sugarcane which saw an improvement of 15 per cent against last year. Sugar production meanwhile has reached 70 lakh tonne for the year 2009-10, which is 12 per cent more than the last year.

In order to make most of the bumper crop this year, sugar factories in the state have been asked to crush the whole stock of sugarcane to extract as much sugar as possible. With the crushing season including a total of 170 days, the process is expected to continue till mid May.

Minister for co-operation, Harshwardhan Patil told Business Standard that next year sugar production is expected to reach up to 75 lakh tonne. "The rise in sugar production can be attributed to a bounty crop of sugarcane, which is up by 15 per cent as compared to last year. This year sugar recovery rate has reached to 11.53 per cent which is one of the best we ever had. Due to water scarcity, prolonged summer and delay in monsoon, production of sugarcane and sugar was impacted to certain extent. A similar fear remains for the next crushing season, i.e. in October," he added.

This year, 142 sugar factories were permitted to crush sugarcane out of which 112 are cooperative and 30 are private sugar factories. According to Patil, over 31 sugar factories in the state have not participated in crushing.

Talking about next year's season Patil said, "For sugar industry, there is tough time ahead in the year 2010-2011, because sugar rates are falling down and have reached to Rs 2,500 per quintal. For farmers, some sugar factories have declared higher rates for sugarcane this year which should be ideally Rs 2,200 per tonne. According to our satellite survey, in the year 2011, 75 lakh tonne sugar will be produced over the sugarcane plantation area of 10 lakh hectares."

The reason behind increasing the total production of sugarcane is farmers were offered good rates this year which is about price of Rs 2250 per tonne of sugarcane. Though, it is resulted into increase in production cost of sugar factories. Due to increased production cost this year, sugar factories will not be in a position to give the rates as compare to this year. They may get an offer of Rs 1,900 per tonne which is Rs 350 less than the current year.

Prakash Naiknavre, MD, Maharashtra State Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories (Sakhar Sangh) told Business Standard that the crushing season is good for farmers and entire sugar industry as compare to last year because of enough production of sugar cane and henceforth the sugar yield produced is more than the last year.

Talking about import he said, "The country's sugar production is 180 lakh tonne and demand is 235 lakh tonne. We are importing sugar from countries like Brazil and Thailand, " On daily basis, sugar factories are crushing over 2 lakh tonne sugarcane.

Speaking about sugar rates he said, "Currently, sugar price is at around Rs 2,500 per quintal which should be ideally Rs 3250 per quintal."

The land under sugarcane plantation in the state is 7.70 lakh hectors. Last year, over 35 lakh tonne sugar cane remained uncrushed. The state had crushed 400 lakh tonne cane and produced 46 lakh tonne sugar in 2009.

source: BS

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