Maharashtra sugar mills pay up 84.14% cane arrears to farmers in current season

Maharashtra has set a record of making payments to farmers this season. Mills in the state have paid around 84.14 per cent of the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) dues to farmers totalling Rs 4,886.70 crore for the 2019-20 season. Around 15.87 per cent of the cane arrears, amounting to Rs 921.61 crore, still remain to be paid.

The total FRP payable to farmers was Rs 5,808.09 crore, according to the data released by the Office of the Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner. So far, 138 factories in the state have crushed 254.1 lakh tonnes of cane and some 37 factories have not paid any FRP to farmers. Around 138 factories have participated in crushing this season and have crushed some 254.2 lakh tonnes of cane.

Around 61 sugar mills have paid 100 per cent FRP to farmers while 77 factories still remain with FRP dues. Some 17 factories have paid dues to farmers in the range of 80-99 per cent and 23 factories have made payments in the range of 60-79 per cent while 37 factories have made payments to farmers in the range of 0-59 per cent.

Maharashtra Cane Control Board had earlier approached the chief secretary of the state, secretary for cooperation and Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner, seeking 15 per cent interest in dues from those factories that have not made FRP payments to farmers in a single amount.

According to senior officials in the Commissionerate, around 143 mills had participated in cane crushing, of which 77 were cooperative mills and 66 were private. These mills crushed 371.25 lakh tonnes of cane to produce 400.37 lakh quintal of sugar at a recovery of 10.78 per cent. As on date, 4 mills have closed crushing operations, he said. Meanwhile, the All India Sugar Traders Association (AISTA) has estimated India’s 2019-20 output at 274 lakh tonnes as against 332 lakh tonnes achieved in 2018-19. AISTA expects a reduction of 10 lakh tonnes in sugar production due to diversion of cane to production of B-heavy molasses.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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