Floods may dent state’s sugarcane yield: Minister

Floods may dent state’s sugarcane yield: Minister

Destroyed sugarcane crop

Karnataka, which is India’s third-largest sugar producer, may suffer a shortfall in the sugarcane yield as large swathes of crops have suffered damage in the recent floods, Sugar Minister C T Ravi said Thursday. 

Speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting of the Sugarcane Control Board, Ravi said the recent floods had affected 1.52 lakh hectares out of 5 lakh hectares on which sugarcane is grown. "There's some partial damage and there's full damage in that the inundation was for weeks and months on end. So, we estimate shortfall in yield," the minister said. 

This will mean a shorter crushing season for the sugar factories. "After Deepavali, we will allow factories to start crushing the cane," he said. 

Karnataka has 85 sugar factories of which 67 are functional, Ravi said. "In 2018-19, a total of 410.65 lakh metric tonnes cane was crushed by the factories and sugar production was 44.31 lakh metric tonnes," he said. 

Nationally, the demand for sugar is 25 million metric tonnes (MMT) whereas production is 28 MMT. "Globally, the demand is 300 MMT against the production of 270 MMT. The reason for this is Brazil is preferring ethanol and has put in place regulations on growing sugarcane. Therefore, India has reached the number one spot. Within the country, Uttar Pradesh ranks first followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka," he said. 

The meeting was also attended by sugarcane growers who have been assured that the government will ensure factories pay them their dues as per the fair and remunerative price (FRP) in the next 10 days. The FRP for 2018-19 was Rs 2,750 per tonne. "As per the FRP, factories should pay farmers Rs 11,948 crore. Till date, only Rs 84 crore is due," Ravi said.

In response to concerns over the difference in yield within the same area, Ravi said the government will deploy 'automated sugar detective recovery machine' that costs about Rs 1 crore and is used widely in Brazil. "On a pilot basis, this will be used in some sugar factories."

On shifting the Commissionerate of Sugar and Directorate of Cane Development from Bengaluru to Belagavi, Ravi said the government had already decided to do it. "But out of 39 sanctioned posts, only 9 working, of whom 5 are permanent. Also, we'll need to have regional offices. Otherwise, it'll lead to more inconvenience," he said.


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