Maharashtra beats UP with record sugar production this season

Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said total production in the state is expected to reach 125 lakh tonnes by the end of the season, the highest so far.

Maharashtra is eyeing record sugar production in the 2021-22 season, leaving its closest competitor Uttar Pradesh far behind. On Monday, 197 mills in Maharashtra crushed 1,072.58 lakh tonnes of cane to produce 111.16 lakh tonnes of sugar. Uttar Pradesh has reported production of 78 lakh tonnes of sugar so far this season.

Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said total production in the state is expected to reach 125 lakh tonnes by the end of the season, the highest so far. The state previously reported its highest production of the 2018-19 season at 107 lakh tonnes. Maharashtra has already diverted 12-15 lakh tonnes of sugar to ethanol production.

Gaikwad said the current season is expected to span 160 to 180 days and could continue until late May or early June in some areas. Normally the grinding is completed within 120 days. State Cooperation Minister Balasaheb Patil recently told the Legislative Assembly that there is a glut of sugar cane in Beed, Jalna, Parbhani and Satara districts. Experts attributed this to the increase in production per hectare, which exceeded 125 tonnes per acre this season.

So far, 19 mills have stopped grinding operations for the season. Mills in Kolhapur and Sangli are expected to complete their season by the end of March, while those in Pune and Satara are expected to do so by the end of April. However, factories in Marathwada, Ahmednagar, Solapur and Nashik are expected to continue operations until the end of May.

BB Thombare, chairman of the Western India Sugar Mills Association, said Marathwada, usually among the top divisions to finish the season, will continue to crush until the end of May. The area sown to sugar cane has increased from 3.5 lakh hectares to nearly 5 lakh hectares in the region thanks to good rains and the promise of guaranteed income, Thombare said. The sugar cane acreage in the state for the 2021-22 season has increased to 12.32 lakh hectare from 11.42 lakh hectare in the previous season.

Given the excess production of sugar cane in the Marathwada region, some factories were told to continue crushing operations even though they were done with the yield in their allotted areas, senior officials said. The region usually produces 10 lakh tons of sugar cane, but the crushing can reach almost 12.5 lakh tons this time around.

Factories in neighboring districts of Marathwada were also invited to participate. “We are trying to get the excess return from Jalna to Solapur. Sugarcane production has increased in Jalna, Osmanabad and Pathri in Parbhani,” an official said.

Exports this season are also higher, with deals secured for 58 lakh tonnes by sugar mills across the country so far. Exports are expected to hit 75 lakh tons this season compared to 60 lakh tons in the 2020-21 season.

Rachel J. Bradford