Drought in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka has hurt fresh sugarcane planting, which may affect cane availability for sugar year 2013-14 starting October. Areas such as Marathawada, Vidarbha and parts of Northern Karnataka are reeling under the impact of drought induced by erratic monsoon in 2012.
Shift to Other Crops
“Currently, the planting registration is down by 50 per cent of the normal area, and a clearer picture will emerge this March when the planting season ends,” said Narendra Murukumbi, Managing Director of Shree Renuka Sugars Ltd. Sugarcane is planted in Maharashtra and Karnataka mainly from November to February. Except for districts such as Kolhapur and Satara in Maharasthra and Gulbarga and Bagalkot in Karnataka, where water availability is better, farmers are not confident of planting cane in these States, Murkumbi said. Cane-growing areas of Belgaum and Solapur have seen farmers shifting to other crops such as jowar that require less water.
Farmer leader and Parliamentarian from Hatkanangle in Maharashtra, Raju Shetti, said except for areas in the Krishna valley, cane planting has been poor. “It will have a major impact next season.” Cane crushing, which started late by a month, will be over by March-end, Shetti added. Vinay Kumar, Managing Director, National Sugar Cooperative Federation Ltd, said: “Fresh cane planting in Maharashtra is definitely lower than last year. It is too early to quantify the acreage, and a correct picture will emerge by March.”
Rains in Marathawada and Vidarbha in Maharashtra were deficient during October-December. According to the India Meteorological Department data, rainfall was down 48 per cent in Vidarbha, while it was lower by 29 per cent than normal for the October 1- December 31 period. Even the ‘adsali’ sugarcane planting or the 18-month crop, which gets planted by August, has been lower by about a third in Maharashtra this year. Indian Sugar Mills Association Director-General Abinash Verma said: “Only two-thirds of the area was covered in ‘adsali’ sugarcane planting due to lack of water.” He added that it was too early to comment on the impact of the cane acreage.
Shortage of Seed Cane
Verma also pointed out that some cane-growing areas in Maharashtra could face shortage of seed cane. Erratic monsoon had led to diversion of the standing cane crop to fodder in Maharashtra last year, which may result in shortage of seed cane. According to the Association data, Maharashtra produced 2.9 million tonnes till December-end, about 4 per cent more than the last year. Sugar recovery has so far stood at 10.46 per cent, almost same as last year, due to partial dry-cane arrivals. Maharashtra is expected to produce about 6.5 million tonnes in the 2012-13 sugar year, down from 8.95 million tonnes in the previous year as dry spells had hurt the cane crop. In Karnataka, the output till December-end is higher by 17 per cent at 1.55 million tonnes.
Source : Hindu Businessline