Sugarcane acreage estimated to rise over 2.2 million hectares in 2011-12.

In the backdrop of an estimated 7.2 per cent increase in sugarcane acreage during 2011-12, the Uttar Pradesh government is gearing up for its crushing season and is holding cane area reservation meetings.

Sugarcane is one of the most important cash crops for UP and the state’s economy depends upon it to a large extent. While over four million farmers’ families are engaged in sugarcane farming, UP’s biggest organised industrial sector comprising 125 odd sugar mills is based upon it.

The total cane requirement of all the operational sugar mills is over 800 million tonnes.

During 2010-11, sugarcane farmers’ dues on the sugar industry alone were over Rs 13,000 crore, which excludes the local economy of gur and khandsari units.

The reservation meetings, which started last week, will be wrapped up by September 14.

In these meetings, sugarcane societies and farmers’ representatives raise issues related to linking of their acreage to individual sugar mills for supply of cane. The meetings, which are conducted division-wise, have been on since September 5.

Under the UP Sugarcane (Regulation of Purchase and Supply) Act, 1953, farmers supply cane to a sugar mill fixed by the UP cane commissioner order – known as reservation order.

Today, reservation meetings pertaining to Devipatan and Faizabad regions were conducted, while Deoria and Gorakhpur regions would be taken up tomorrow, cane department sources told Business Standard.

Sugarcane acreage is estimated to rise 7.2 per cent in 2011-12 to 2.252 million hectares (MH) compared to 2.101 MH in 2010-11. Of this, ratoon crop is likely to increase 17.4 per cent to over 1.171 MH in 2011-12.

Ratooning is a method which leaves the lower parts of the plant along with the root uncut at the time of harvesting to give the ratoon or the stubble crop. The main benefit of ratooning is that the crop matures earlier in the season. Ratooning can also decrease the cost of preparing the field and planting.

Meanwhile, UP sugar mills had collectively paid about Rs 12,870 crore to farmers against total outstanding dues at Rs 13,031 crore for the 2010-11 crushing season.

According to cane department, the land and bagasse of Gagalhedi sugar mill in Saharanpur would be auctioned on September 19 for its inability to clear farmers’ dues on time. Besides, Majhawali mill in Moradabad had been directed by the Supreme Court for paying cane dues paid by October 2011.

Recently, state sugarcane development and sugar industry minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui had directed officials that no area be reserved for a mill, which fails to clear its dues and strict action be taken against them.

source: business-standard

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