Government data indicates that sugarcane arrears to farmers are at a five-year low

According to the latest data from the Department of Food and Public Distribution, sugarcane arrears for 2021-22 have come down to Rs 5,910 crore by the end of the season on September 30, the lowest amount in five years. This is a result of an increase in sugar exports and an increase in ethanol production.

Data indicates that farmers procured sugarcane worth Rs 1.18 lakh crore during the 2021-22 season. Of that amount, Rs 1.12 lakh crore has been paid by September 30, leaving Rs 5,910 crore in dues.

As a result, the amount of sugarcane procured by the Government in the 2021-22 season was “historically” high, according to the Government. Sugarcane worth Rs 91,676 crore was procured by mills during the 2020-21 season.

According to Subodh Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, “the lowest level” of arrears can be attributed to ethanol production records and sugar exports.

This is the case despite historically high procurement of sugarcane by mills – Rs 1.18 lakh crore – in the country. Compared to the arrears as of September 30, the cane arrears are about Rs 6,000 crore, which is the lowest in recent years.

In addition, the Agriculture Ministry has improved sugarcane varieties, which has resulted in increased yields and recovery. Currently, the recovery rate is approximately 11 per cent,” Singh told The Deccan Era.

In terms of sugarcane policy, the Government has maintained a stable position. As of now, we have a surplus of sugar. The sugar mills may have difficulty clearing dues to farmers if the sugar stock remains high and is not liquidated. To address this issue, the Government has launched a program for blending ethanol with gasoline. Last year (2020-21), we diverted sugarcane equal to approximately 22 lakh metric tons of sugar for ethanol production; this year (2021-22), we have diverted about 35 lakh metric tons,” he explained.

Additionally, there is sugar exportation. This year, about 112 lakh metric tonnes of sugar will be exported as opposed to 70 lakh metric tons last year,” Singh explained.

According to the data, the amount of ethanol supply increased from 173 crore litres in 2019-20 to 302 crore litres during the supply year (2020-21, December to November). There has also been an increase in sugar exports in recent years. In 2019-20, sugar exports were 58.59 lakh metric tonnes, while in 2021-22, they were 70 lakh metric tonnes. There have already been 109 lakh Metric tonnes of sugar exported during the season 2021-22. It is worth noting that this is a provisional figure and may increase once the final data is available.

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