The sugarcane crop in Maharashtra was negatively impacted by ongoing rains last year, which led to a meager harvest this year. The 210 sugarcane factories in the state closed their doors well ahead of the expected season as a result of the decline in sugarcane production.
Amar Patil, a sugarcane farmer in Kolhapur, claimed that prolonged rains in October and November outside of the monsoon season caused moisture to build up in the soil. He mentioned, “The sugarcane crop requires a good amount of sun during growth stages. The moisture led to poor growth. I made a production estimate of 80 tonnes from my farm, but could only manage 60 tonnes of total produce.”
According to Patil, a 20% decrease in sugarcane production is significant. On the other hand, the state-wide low yield has persisted.
According to a review article titled Climate Change and Sugarcane Production: Potential Impact and Mitigation Strategies that appeared in the International Journal of Agronomy in 2015, extreme weather events either directly or indirectly affect sugarcane production.
“The negative effects of climate change on sugarcane production are very likely to worsen after 2050, especially if greenhouse gas emissions still remain high,” the statement continued.
Drop-In Sugarcane Yield
The overall sugar production in the factories has decreased by 20%, according to PG Medhe, a sugar expert and former managing director at Rajarambapu Co-operative Sugar Factory in Kolhapur.
The drop in sugarcane yield caused 210 sugarcane factories in Maharashtra to shut production before expected.
According to the final crushing report from April 17, less sugar was produced this year—105.27 million quintals of sugar were produced from 105.47 million tonnes of sugarcane—a decrease of 9.98% from the previous year.
According to Media, the sugarcane factories begin operations around November following the start of the harvest and continue through June or July. The factories, however, stopped production this year in April. However, the low production and the government-imposed limit of 6.1 million tonnes for export are likely to put pressure on sugar prices around the world.
The decision is probably going to have an impact on the global sugar market as well. Media mentioned, “The international sugar rate is Rs 55/kg, which is the highest in the past 11 years. Maharashtra is the largest sugar producer in the country and India is a major exporter of sugar.” He further mentioned, “Even if the export cap for sugar is eased, sugar cooperatives struggle to make ends meet. The minimum sugar support price is Rs 32-33/kg, but the production cost has reached Rs 36/kg. There has been no increase in sugar prices since 2019.”
According to a Reuters report, retail sugar prices in India have increased by 6% as production has decreased.
According to Media, prices will remain unchanged due to the state and central elections in 2024. “The sugar-producing factories are running in losses.”
The Maharashtra sugar cooperatives had written a letter to the government outlining the problems, but according to Medhe, no action has been taken.
The cooperatives already use borrowing to fund their operations. The chairman at Kallappanna Awade Cooperative Sugar Factory Ltd, Prakash Awade, stated, “As the cooperatives are not making, they are unable to give deserved prices to the farmers for their produce. It is affecting the farmers as well.”
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