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Corporate magnates like Bajaj, Birla, Modi group owe Indian sugarcane farmers Rs 5000 crores

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The leading names of the sugar industry have left the UP government in a spot of bother.

Sugar mills owned by nine top notch companies such as Bajaj, Birla, Modi group and the late liquor baron Ponty Chadda-led ‘Wave group’ account for over  Rs 5000 crores, more than half of the total outstanding cane arrears in the country.

The reports of the cane development department revealed by an English daily, show that these sugar biggies are the country’s biggest laggards in making cane payments.

After buying cane in huge quantity from farmers, the private mills have come to default on a payment of over Rs 5100 crores, reported The Times of India.

Bajaj alone is defaulting on a payment of Rs 2100 crores, while Birla is yet to pay Rs 520 crores. Mawana group which has three mills is defaulting on a payment of Rs 611 crores, while the Modi group owes around Rs 460 crores to the farmers. The Yadu group, owned by mafia turned politician, DP Yadav, is defaulting to the tune of Rs 62 crores.

Out of a total of 103, 40 mills belonging to  these companies are defaulting massively and have left the poor cane growers in a state of complete loss.

“The department would be considering action against the defaulters very soon”, said UP cane commissioner Subhash Chandra Sharma.

Earlier a recent high court order had directed the state government to force 75 per cent of the total cane dues paid to the farmers by July 15.

An action report is required to be filed by the cane department by July 28.

Talking about the steps undertaken to bring the defaulters to book Sharma said, “The department is taking all possible steps including initiating action like registering FIRs and issuing recovery challans against the millers.”

“The payment is being done but very slowly. Not surprisingly, an arrear running into thousands of crores would be carried into the next crushing season which would start by October end”, Sharma said while commenting on the progress made thus far.

According to recent figures from the Centre’s directorate of sugar shows that nationally UP accounts for the highest cane arrears while Maharashtra comes a close second.

The lower arrears for Maharashtra in comparison to UP are attributed to a lesser compensation for farmers.

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‘Red Rot’ Infestation In Sugarcane Leads India Into Trouble

fungus infestation occurred mainly in the water-logged areas in central Uttar Pradesh, where the Co-0238 variety was not recommended.

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Agriculture
Cane growers in Uttar Pradesh are slowly shifting to other varieties such as Co-0118 as the recovery rate of Co-0238 has gone down due to the infestation, Pixabay

The famed Co-0238 high-yielding sugarcane variety that has placed India on the verge of becoming the world’s largest sugar producer has run into trouble due to a ‘Red Rot’ infestation, forcing the government to hunt for a new strain to check a possible slump in output in the coming years.

Coimbatore-based Sugar Breeding Institute (ICAR-SBI), a constituent of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, has started working on a project to develop a variety that will address the problem of the fungal disease besides increasing cane yield and recovery rate (percentage of sugar to sugarcane).

The new variety is being developed at the institute’s Karnal-based centre, which may take up to three years to become ready for commercial use, ICAR-SBI Director Bakshi Ram told IANS.

“Broadly, there are three characters we are working on. These are increasing cane yield, resolving the Red Rot problem and improving sugar recovery. But focus in the new variety is on the Red Rot issue. It is welcoming if other two characters also gets better,” he said.

sugarcane
Sugar production in India in 2018-19 is expected to improve on the previous year’s record, which can make the country largest global producer, Pixabay

This fungal infection is said to be the most threatening sugarcane disease, commonly termed its cancer.

The area under Co-0238 has increased at a faster rate in subtropical regions after it was released in 2009-10, and now covers 1.19 million hectares.

In 2017-18, this variety made for a sugar recovery rate of over 13 per cent or production of 12.05 million tonnes in Uttar Pradesh alone as against the total production of around 32.25 million tonnes in the country.

Sugar production in India in 2018-19 is expected to improve on the previous year’s record, which can make the country largest global producer, provided Brazil continues with its decision to earmark more cane for producing ethanol.

Infestation of ‘Red Rot’ was first seen in 2016 in some pockets but its rapid proliferation has caused great worry to farmers, an official of the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories (NFCSF) said.

sugarcane
Indian Council of Agricultural Research, has started working on a project to develop a variety that will address the problem of the fungal disease besides increasing cane yield and recovery rate,pixabay

“Cane growers in Uttar Pradesh are slowly shifting to other varieties such as Co-0118 as the recovery rate of Co-0238 has gone down due to the infestation. We think this variety may be phased out in the next four-five years,” said NFCSF Managing Director Prakash Naiknavare.

Bakshi Ram said the fungus infestation occurred mainly in the water-logged areas in central Uttar Pradesh, where the Co-0238 variety was not recommended.

Also Read: UN food agency Pushes ‘Smart Crops’ as Rice Alternative to defeat Hunger in Asia

“The infestation occurred due to plantation of the Co-0238 variety with other susceptible cane varieties in the water-logged areas,” he pointed out.

Replantation of with new Co-0238 seeds can provide relief to farmers and this advisory has been sent to all sugar mills in the state, he added. (IANS)