The failure of the Haryana government to announce a hike in the state advised price (SAP) of sugarcane has led to a reduction of the area under this crop. This is likely to pose a threat to the working of the 15 sugar mills in the state, besides reducing sugar production.
Sources in the Agriculture Department informed TNS that this year the area under sugarcane was just 85,000 hectares. Last year, too, the area under sugar cane was quite less (94,000 hectares), but the government was hoping to increase the area under this crop this year by making it more renumerative for farmers. But with no announcement being made for an increase in the SAP, farmers have switched over to better paying crops like paddy.
Last year, the government had raised the SAP by Rs 30 per quintal for each variety. It was after a gap of two years that the government had increased the SAP to Rs 168 per quintal for early-maturing, Rs 158 per quintal for mid-maturing and Rs 156 per quintal for late-maturing varieties so as to encourage farmers to grow more cane. This year, the SMP (statutory minimum price) has been hiked by the Central Government from Rs 82 per quintal to Rs 106 per quintal. But farmers in Haryana are not enthused as they are paid the SAP, which is higher than the SMP.
Officials in the Agriculture Department, Haryana, informed TNS that the area under sugarcane cultivation was around 1.40 lakh hectares in 2007. With such a decrease in the area under cane cultivation, cane availability to the sugar mills is expected to be reduced by 45 per cent since year 2007. They fear that most of the sugar mills in the state will now operate for only 50 per cent of the cane crushing season.
ďThe low availability of sugarcane this year will definitely impact sugar production in the state. With a reduction in the area under cane by 9,000 hectares, against sugar production of 20 lakh quintals last year, the production will come down to around 18 lakh quintals,Ē said a senior official in the Agriculture Department. The less availability of cane means that the 11 cooperative, four private and the HAFED sugar mill will not be able to utilise their capacities to the maximum and the number of cane crushing days in most mills will be reduced from the usual 150 days to 90 days. As against 170 lakh quintals of cane crushed by the cooperative sugar mills, only 155 lakh quintals of cane will be available for crushing this year.