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Published on: July 26, 2021, 3:18 p.m.
All about green gold
  • Rich harvest: the average yield of sugarcane has increased from 72 tonnes to 81 tonnes per hectare

By Lancelot Joseph. Executive Editor, Business India

Clearing the last six years’ arrears of farmers was a major challenge before the Adityanath government, which assumed office in March 2017, because of the neglect shown during the regimes of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP). Now, the government has enhanced the sweetness of the sugarcane, which had gone bitter for the farmers, by making record payments. Over 4.57 million sugarcane farmers in Uttar Pradesh have been paid more than Rs1,40,000 crore during 2017-21. 

“Sugarcane is turning sweeter for the UP farmers,” says Suresh Rana, minister, sugar industries & cane, UP, indicating the pro-farmer stance of the government. “The state government has transformed the sugarcane sector in the state, with its commitment to pay every penny of the sugarcane farmers.” Unlike its predecessors, the BJP government has accorded priority to ensuring the payment of cane price to the state farmers.

The payment that was earlier made in 10 years (2007-17) by the then BSP and SP governments has been made by the incumbent government in just four years. Also, the amount is two times the payment made by the former BSP government and 1.5 times more than what the SP government had given. 

During Mayawati’s tenure (2007-12), three million cane farmers were paid Rs52,131 crore while, during the Akhilesh regime (2012-17), the remittance to 3.3 million farmers was Rs95,215 crore.  “Under the SP and BSP governments, sugarcane farmers had to run from pillar to post for payment of their dues,” says Rana. “Troubled by the situation, many farmers had given up sugarcane production. But, as soon as the new government came to power, it changed the fate of sugarcane farmers by making a record payment. There are more than 4.57 million sugarcane suppliers in the state and about 679,000 farmers are associated with sugarcane cultivation.” The Adityanath government has also cleared arrears worth Rs10,661 crore, pending since the Akhilesh government, to cane farmers.

Licences were issued to new 287 khandasari units for the first time in 25 years, out of which 133 units have been operational. “This not only generated more than 30,000 jobs in rural areas but also created an additional crushing capacity of 66,250 tonnes crushed per day (tcd),” adds Rana. “With the establishment of new khandasari units, more than 50,000 people will get employment across the state.”

Record production

Sugar mills that were shut during the previous governments were revived by the BJP government – so much so, that the state now ranks first in sugar production in the country. The sugar mills now functioning include the units in the Pipraich-Munderwa area. The capacity of the closed Ramala Sugar Mill was increased and was made operational. Ethanol plants were set up in Sathianv and Najibabad cooperative mills.

The state government has crushed more than 386.8 million tonnes of sugarcane in UP, with a record production of 42.73 million tonnes of sugar, including three previous crushing seasons and the current crushing season of 2020-21. 

In another record production, a total of 2.62 billion litres of ethanol has been produced in the state through 54 distilleries between 2017 and January 2021.

The state government also took steps to ensure that no sugar mill stopped operating even during the lockdown and the pandemic. On the directives issued by the chief minister, all sugar mills were kept operating and a payment of Rs5,954 crore was made during the lockdown. Moreover, the government also revived over 20 defunct sugar mills and inaugurated plants for manufacturing sulphur-free sugar at Munderwa and Pipraich sugar mills located in Basti and Gorakhpur districts respectively. Both the plants have contributed in sugar production worth Rs30 crore each.

During the reign of the BSP government from 2007 to 2012, as many as 19 sugar mills were shut down and 21 sugar mills were sold at cheap prices. The government also inaugurated a sugar mill worth Rs500 crore at Baghpatwith (with a crushing capacity of 50,000 quintals per day) and a 27 MW co-generation plant in Pipraich, Gorakhpur district.

“The three sugar mills have provided employment opportunities to over 300,000 farmers directly and have also generated about 50,000 jobs. The cane crushing capacity of the sugar mill at Mohiuddinpur in Meerut was increased at a cost of R152 crore. Along with this, constant efforts were made to increase the cane-crushing capacity of over half-a-dozen sugar mills to provide relief to the farmers. The government has ensured that the various defunct sugar mills, such as Wave Sugar Mill at Bulandshahr, Venus Sugar Mill at Chandausi and Daya Sugar Mill at Saharanpur (which had been shut for six, eight and nine years respectively), start functioning again,” says Rana. 

With such measures taken by the government, the average yield of sugarcane has increased from 72 tonnes to 81 tonnes per hectare. Each of the six distilleries that had been shut down during the previous governments has also been restarted. The UP government has taken the sugar industry to a new height by transforming the sugarcane farming in the state.

 “Apart from increasing the capacity of sugar mills, the government has also generated employment on a large scale through sugarcane production,” To solve the problems of sugarcane farmers and to bring cleanliness and transparency in parchi (receipt) issuance and other works done by co-operative cane societies, ERP modules have also been developed.

Guiding farmers through ERP

Sugarcane supplier farmers of the state are now well-connected with information technology through the system of ERP. In this system, all information to the cane farmers is made available in real time through the online portal and e-Ganna app, and farmers get instant SMS ganaa parchi on their mobiles, along with the printed parchis. Sugarcane weighing facilities have also been provided through this SMS parchi. 

The Uttar Pradesh government is also trying to make sugarcane green gold through ethanol. It has become the top producer of ethanol, having produced about 2.62 billion litres of ethanol in the state through 54 distilleries till January 2021. Before the BJP government came to power, UP used to record production of 400 million litres of ethanol; now, the state is producing 850 million litres of ethanol, which is more than double the earlier production. 

The sugarcane department is connected to 33.5 million families in UP. There are about 4.54 million farmers supplying cane in the state and about 6.7 million farmers are involved in sugarcane cultivation. Along with sugarcane crushing and payments, the government has also set a record in the area of sugar recovery, at 11.46 per cent. 

The state government, in its ongoing campaign to weed out the ‘sugarcane mafia’, has uncovered about 200,000 fake bonds of almost 1.5 million tonnes of sugarcane. The sugarcane mafia operates by registering as bona fide farmers with sugarcane/mill societies. In order to make the registration process completely transparent, a ‘sugarcane app’ was also launched by the government.

Today, Uttar Pradesh is the state with the highest sugarcane cultivation in the country. It is the largest sugar producing state and the largest ethanol producing state. “As of today, 47 per cent of the sugar production in the country is from UP,” says Rana. “The sugarcane sector contributes 8.45 per cent to the state’s GDP and 20.18 per cent to the GDP of the agriculture sector.”

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