Sugarcane production in the country this year has reached 29.09 million tonnes so far and it will cross 30 million mark in next few days, a government official said on Tuesday.
At the same time, sugarcane payment arrears has surged to Rs 18,004 crore as on April 14.
According to the official, total sugar production is expected to be 30.5 million tonnes as some mills particularly in Tamil Nadu would still be crushing sugarcane this month.
On other hand, industry body, Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), which represents private mills, has said the total production as on April 15 was 29.98 million tonnes. Last year, the production had fallen to 20.3 million tonnes.
In a release, ISMA also said the millers' inability to pay cane price because of highly depressed sugar prices had translated into huge cane price arrears of farmers.
"As on 15th March 2018, the cane price arrears reported to the government was already over Rs 18,000 crore across the country. Since the sugar prices have only fallen from therein, the cane price arrears would have crossed Rs 20,000 crore, which would be the highest ever at this time in any of the past seasons," it said.
According to the government official, payment arrears of Rs 8,869 crore is owned by sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh while it is Rs 2,420 crore in Karnataka and Rs 2,213 crore inr Maharashtra.
He also said the past payment arrears for 2015-16 and 2016-17 were Rs 697 crore and Rs 545 crore, respectively.
ISMA said the pace of sugar production across the country had reduced as several sugar factories were closing crushing operations
"Out of 187 sugar mills which started crushing in Maharashtra, only 50 are crushing sugarcane now. Maharashtra's production has almost reached its past record and the sugar mills therein have produced 10.498 million tonnes tons up to April 15," it said as per the release.
"Uttar Pradesh sugar mills have already produced their record highest ever and 105 sugar mills are still crushing sugarcane. Up to April 15, Uttar Pradesh mills have produced 10.48 million tonnes."
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