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Uttar Pradesh sugar output up despite adversities

Lucknow, Feb 21 (Calcutta Tube) Adversities and low output in other parts of the country notwithstanding, the sugar output has gone up in Uttar Pradesh and the state remains India’s second highest producer of the sweetener after Maharashtra.

‘According to an assessment we made on Feb 17, the state’s sugar production was expected to touch 41.60 lakh (4.16 million) tonnes this year as against 40.64 lakh tonnes in 2009,’ state Cane Commissioner Sudhir Bobde told IANS.

‘Our calculation was based on the fact that the state’s mills had already produced about 35.26 lakh tonnes after crushing of about 398 lakh tonnes of cane till Feb 17. A number of mills will continue crushing for about three more weeks,’ Bobde said Saturday.

‘Sugar production during the corresponding period of 2009 was 35.10 lakh tonnes, after crushing of 396.51 lakh tonnes.’

Bobde said crushing was now over in 40 of the state’s 128 sugar mills. The remaining 88 mills will continue their production until the end of February or the first week of March.

The cane commissioner attributed the rise in this year’s output to the state government’s decision to give added incentives to sugarcane growers and to the restrictions on import of raw sugar.

‘Even as rains got delayed, it was our decision to give a substantial incentive over and above the state- advised price to the sugarcane grower that led farmers supplying more to mills as compared to the local ‘kohlu’ units producing jaggery,’ Bobde pointed out.

What had been a matter of concern for the state was the sharp fall in cane output since 2006-07, which led to a consequential drop in sugar production. That was the year when production in Uttar Pradesh had touched a high of 84.75 lakh tonnes.

The sugarcane crop area then stood at 26.62 lakh hectares. The crop area increased to 28.50 lakh hectares in 2007-08, but due to poor recovery of sugarcane juice the production of sugar came down to 75.19 lakh tonnes.

The next year, 2008-09, registered a sharp fall in both crop area, which was reduced to 20.40 lakh hectares, and sugar production, which dropped to 40.64 lakh tonnes.

‘Now even as the sugarcane crop area had gone further down in 2009-10 to 17.88 lakh hectares, we are looking at a relatively higher sugar production of 41.60 lakh tonnes,’ claimed the cane commissioner.

‘If we had not adopted the new strategy to give incentives and to restrict import of raw sugar, it would have badly affected the farmers and led them to substitute more sugarcane areas with other crops.’

(Sharat Pradhan can be contacted at sharat.p@ians.in)

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