Sugarcane production in Tamil Nadu is likely to decline by 20 to 25 per cent next year and sugar mill owners are chalking out strategies to tide over the crisis during the lean period.
On one hand, the prices of sugarcane are rising while on the other, the prices of sugar is fixed. This is plaguing the sugarmills, said the owners during the 43rd Annual Convention of The South India Sugarcane and Sugar Technologists’ Association, here on Friday.
Delivering the inaugural address, A Vellayan, executive chairman of Murugappa Group, said that the mills were still banking on only one variety of sugarcane and recommended methods of sugarcane farming.
He said that the per hectare cultivation in India was quite low when compared to other sugarcane producing countries like Brazil and Australia. The need of the hour is to improve soil health, he said, citing the example of China, which uses nearly 50 per cent organic fertilisers. He also highlighted the various challenges faced by the farmers such as decreasing water table and labour shortage. Vellayan also suggested drip irrigation, besides mechanised farming to reduce the dependence on farm labourers.
Vellayan also said that the need of the hour for sugarmill owners was to shift from traditional production and generate more revenue.
Vice-chairman and managing director of Sakthi Sugars M Manickam said that the cane prices cannot be controlled as the cost of cultivation was going up. He also said that sugar mills were directly linked to farmers. whom the government had to protect by offering them prices commensurate with their produce.
Ram V Tyagarajan, chairman and managing director of Arooran Sugars, said that globally, the sugar industry was facing a crisis.
The following year would be challenging for the sugar industry in Tamil Nadu as sugarcane production is likely to fall by 20 to 25 per cent, he said and predicted that it would stabilise only in 2014-15. Interestingly, his comments come in the wake of the data compiled by the Union Agriculture Ministry which showed that the sowing area under sugarcane fell to 4.07 million hectare as on May compared to 4.57 million hectare area in the corresponding period last year. Lesser sowing is likely to affect India’s cane productivity followed by the proportionate decline in the country’s sugar output.