Mysore: Fall in cane production may hit sugar sector

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Mysuru, Nov 7: The sugar sector is likely to face problems in view of fall in cane production. Sugarcane production in the State has fallen because of the farmers' reluctance to cultivate the crop. Frustrated by the apathy of the Government in fixing a scientific Statutory Minimum Price (SMP), cane growers did not cultivate the crop this year.

According to president of the Rajya Kabbu Belegarara Sangha (RKBS), Kuruburu Shanthakumar, production of sugarcane dropped by 45 per cent and there is no sign of any improvement in the situation. There are chances of the State facing a shortage of sugar next year. The situation may worsen as cane growers across the State were losing interest in going in for sugarcane, as they did not want to incur loss, he said.

Mr. Shanthakumar said that compared to previous year"s 4.2 crore tonnes of cane production, farmers had grown only 3 crore tonnes in the current year. While 2.6 crore tonnes was crushed by factories last year, only 1.4 crore tonnes was crushed during the year. The demand was increasing because of fall in the supply of cane.

"Farmers are showing more interest in supplying cane to jaggery factories as it is remunerative for them. They are getting Rs. 1,600 to Rs. 1,700 for a tonne of cane. While growers are incurring an expenditure of Rs. 1,500 per tonne, why would they supply cane at the rate of Rs. 800 to Rs. 900 a tonne?"

He said that there was a possibility of the growers supplying 1 crore tonnes to jaggery factories next year. It was also difficult to get cane supply from neighbouring States, as factories there were paying a higher price to farmers, he said.

Sugar factories, which have refused to pay Rs. 160 over and above the SMP, have now voluntarily coming forward to fix the price. Sensing the shortage of supply, sugar factories are paying advance for the supply of cane. While sugar factories in Bagalkot and Belgaum were paying Rs. 1,470 for a tonne of cane, growers are getting Rs. 1,365 in Bidar. But sugar units in and around Mandya and Mysore had not fixed the price for the cane till date. The Government was also delaying fixing the MSP at Rs. 1,550, despite persistent demands from growers, he said.

Sugar factories would also face problems in case of shortage in supply, as they were being benefited a lot. The rate per unit of electricity produced by using baggasse was increased from Rs. 3.15 per unit to Rs. 8.20 a unit last year. The price of molasses rose from Rs. 800 to Rs. 4,500. Despite that, the units were refusing to pay a scientific price to growers and they were sure to face problems in the days to come, he added.

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