50 pct of Maharashtra sugar output hit by drought, says industry body

Maharashtra sugar, sugar, sugar output, Western India Sugar Mills Association, sugar mills, market news

Cane can survive in 1-2 feet water but once the water reaches the top of the plant it starts rotting, he said.

More than 90,000 hectares of cane area in Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara in Maharashtra has been submerged under water for the past week due to floods caused by the unprecedented rains that battered the state.

As per a preliminary assessment conducted by industry body Western India Sugar Mills Association (WISMA), the state’s sugar production is likely to drop to 52-55 lakh tonne for the sugar season of 2019-20, top officials of the association said. BB Thombare, president, WISMA said that 50% of Maharashtra has been hit by drought in the last two months and the remaining 50% has been affected by floods that hit western Maharashtra last week. “More than 35 lakh hectares of area in Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara has been under water for the past week. Sugarcane is the main crop in these regions and therefore more than 60% of the crop could be affected by floods,” he said.

Thombare said that he has been in touch with several mills in the western part of Maharashtra and has been receiving reports that the the cane was submerged in over 5 feet water. Cane can survive in 1-2 feet water but once the water reaches the top of the plant it starts rotting, he said. Significantly, this kharif, both the sugar commissioner and the Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation had said there has been a 30 % dip in area under cane cultivation this year to around 7.5 lakh hectares compared to 11 hectares last year. Marathwada, Solapur and Ahmednagar had reported the maximum dip. Consequently, the state’s sugar production was expected to be around 64 lakh tonne against a record 107 lakh tonne this year. Now estimates are being further reduced to barely 52-55 lakh tonne.

Marathwada was already hit by drought and had reported a drop of 50-60% drop in cane area because both June and July months were dry Thombare said. Senior officials of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation said that the situation is bad and clear picture would emerge as the floods subside. Maharashtra sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad however maintained that only 50,000 hectares of cane area was under water for the last seven days and the overall impact is less than 0.5%.

Thombare however did not agree and said that reports coming in from these areas were were not positive and the area under cane was more than 90,000 hectares. Yogesh Pande, spokesperson, Swabhmani Shetkari Sanghatana, said the situation is very bad and the damage could be high. Shirol alone has some 19 sugar mills and the western region has over 45 sugar mills, he said. Reports are coming in that several mills are close to the river beds and therefore the impact could be severe, he said. These 45 sugar factories crush 216.15 lakh tonne of sugarcane.

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