Around 17.5 lakh tonnes of sugarcane is still lying uncut in farms across Maharashtra although the crushing season has ended, but majority of this stock shall be crushed by the end of this month and over 30 sugar mills will remain functional till it is over, a top official said.
The sugarcane crushing season in Maharashtra generally starts in October-November and continues till mid-April.
Out of the 10 districts in Maharashtra that have topped the list of excess sugarcane stock this year, seven are from the Marathwada region, the official said.
"After good rains last year, the area under sugarcane cultivation in the state increased significantly. Even after the sugarcane crushing season has got over, the state still has around 17.5 lakh tonnes of sugarcane standing in farms, waiting to be crushed. Hence, crushing in some parts of the state may continue till the first week of June," he said.
Talking to PTI, Maharashtra sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said, "The quantum of sugarcane currently standing in the farms across the state is around 17.5 lakh tonnes. Most of this crop will be crushed by May 31. In some parts of Ahmednagar and Jalna districts, the crushing activity may continue till the first week of June." "So far, we have succeeded in bringing 129 harvesters from other states and all are working in . Marathwada. In Jalna alone, 29 harvesters are working at present," he said.
The state had recorded sugarcane plantation on 11.42 lakh hectares in 2020-21, but this year (2021-22), the figure went up by 2.25 lakh hectares to 13.67 lakh hectares. The quantity of sugarcane crushed last year was 1,013.31 lakh tonnes, while this year (till May 16) 1,300.62 lakh tonnes of sugarcane was crushed - an increase of 287.31 lakh tonnes, another official said.
Over 30 sugar mills in the state may continue their operations till May end, he said.
"By May 15, out of the total 199 sugar mills in state, 126 mills have stopped their operations for the season. This figure may go up to 163 by May 25. The remaining 36 sugar mills may continue to work till the stock of sugarcane ends," the official said.
The highest quantity of uncut sugarcane till May 16 is in Beed at 4 lakh tonnes, followed by Jalna at 3.90 lakh tonnes, Ahmednagar 3 lakh tonnes, Latur 2.42 lakh tonnes, Osmanabad 2.38 lakh tonnes, Satara 1 lakh tonne, Nanded 63,000 tonnes, Nandurbar and Aurangabad 50,000 tonnes each and Parbhani 30,000 tonnes each, the official said, adding that planning for the 2022-23 sugarcane crushing shall start a little early.
"We are expecting the same area of sugarcane cultivation next year. But the plan is to commence the sugar mills 15 days earlier (by October 1) than usual with an additional force and crushing capacities of 6-7 more mills. The state has a capacity to crush 8 lakh tonnes of sugarcane per day now. It may go up by 25 thousand per day next year," sugar commissioner Gaikwad said.
"The number of factories working for distillery production will reach to 50-60 in the next season. As a result, the ethanol diversion will also increase," he added.