Sugar output in Punjab is likely to touch 27.50 lakh quintals in the current crushing season as compared to 18 lakh quintals during the corresponding period last year. The increase in output is mainly because of an increase in area coupled with expectations of better recovery (of sugar) as compared to last year.
The total area under sugarcane cultivation in Punjab is 84,000 hectares this year while last year it was 60,000 hectares. Initially, the state planned to increase the sugarcane acreage by 50 per cent from 60,000 hectares to 90,000 hectares. However, due to shortage of electricity the target could not be met.
Speaking to Business Standard, Cane Commissioner, M S Sandhu said, “We are expecting that sugar output would touch 27.50 lakh quintal this crushing season as compared to 18 lakh quintals last season. The sugar mills in the state is likely to crush 320 lakh quintal of sugarcane this season and the recovery would be nine per cent.” While last year 15 sugar mills in the state crushed 210 lakh quintals of sugarcane and the recovery rate was 8.59 per cent.
Further, last year, the sugar output in Punjab touched a historic low of 18 lakh quintals owing to shortage in cane crop and lower crushing. According to the state government data, the output is lowest in the state’s history after 1980-81. The data state that in 1980-81, the sugar output in the state was 5.19 lakh quintals and thereafter it kept on increasing.
With farmers shifting their preference towards wheat and paddy, agriculturists are of the view that the consistent fall in area under cane cultivation has badly affected the sugarcane production in the state, thus reducing the output.
Also, last year, due to shortage of cane, all the nine co-operative sugar mills in the state having crushing capacity of 15,766 tonnes crushed per day (TCD) have been affected. The crushing season has been reduced to 42-46 days last season. The seven private sector sugar mills, in order to keep themselves running, had to shell out anywhere between from Rs 240-Rs 270 per quintal to growers. The installed capacity of all the mills is 31,000 TCD. According to officials in the government their average crushing season was reduced to 85-90 days last year.
The Punjab Government fixed the State Assured Price (SAP) of advanced, medium and late variety of Sugarcane at Rs 200, Rs 195 and Rs 190 per quintal for the crushing season of 2010-11. It may be recalled that the state government had fixed the SAP of advanced, medium and late variety of Sugarcane at Rs 180, Rs 175 and Rs 170 per quintal for the crushing season of 2009-10.