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Friday, 13 May 2016

Maharashtra farmers sell premature sugarcane to mills

PUNE: Vikas Bhosale, whose farm is located on the bank of Ujani dam's backwater, sold his premature sugarcane to jaggery making units as he could not get enough water for the crop. There are many others like the 41-year-old in a state that is facing the worst drought since 1972. What this indicates is a likely steep fall in sugar production next season, on top of this year's 19% drop in Maharashtra, the nation's top producer of the sweetener. Sugar mills in the state finished their crushing operations, producing 83.79 lakh tonnes of sugar compared with last year's 103.26 lakh tonnes. Next year, output could fall by as much as 28 lakh tonnes, according to some estimates. With mill-level sugar prices ruling around Rs 36 a kg, under the government's watchful eyes, mills are desperate to keep the prices at least at the current levels. Meanwhile, even as the debate continues over whether it is worth to let the water-guzzling sugarcane take away all the water in a state where only 18% of the arable land is irrigated, sugarcane fields on huge tracks in western Maharashtra are turning yellow.

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