Thursday, May 30, 2024

Natore Sugar Mills set to fall short of production target

Our Correspondent . Natore

Porters loading a truck with gur produced by illegal power crashers with sugarcanes harvested from Natore Sugar Mills area in Natore. — New Age photo
Porters loading a truck with gur produced by illegal power crashers with sugarcanes harvested from Natore Sugar Mills area in Natore. — New Age photo

Natore Sugar Mills is set to fall short of achieving its target for the current fiscal year as more than 900 illegal power crushers are producing crude sugar or gur in the mill area.
Two Sugar Mills had been constructed in Natore to use the main cash-crop of the district, sugarcane, which grows a lot here.
Sugarcane crushing started in Natore Sugar Mills on October 31, 2008 with a target to produce more than 14,252 metric tons of sugar by crushing 1,90,000 MT of sugarcane in 2008-2009.
In 2007-08, the mill produced 14,078 MT sugar against a target of 14,000 MT. But, this fiscal year it is unlikely to achieve the target for want of sugarcane, the sources added
Nearly 21,200 acres of land had been brought under sugarcane cultivation in Natore Mills area and more than 4,00,000 MT cane were expected to be harvested. According to mill sources, if the mill gets 50 per cent of the sugarcane harvested it can achieve its target. But, the mill authorities doubt whether they would get one-fourth of the total sugarcane produced. So, it will face a sugarcane deficiency to produce sugar.
The general manager, agricultural of the mill said, ‘We have to stop the mill within a week for want of sugarcane. But if we could get the canes we required, we would run the mill till the end of March.’
The situation is so as at present 902 illegal sugarcane power crushers are producing gur using sugarcane produced in the mill area. Violating an order of Natore district administration, they are producing gur purchasing sugarcane grown in the mill area using loans given by the mill authorities.
Owners of the illegal power crushers have been purchasing sugarcane from the growers since mid-August at prices higher than that offered by the mill. The mill authorities are paying Tk 60 for a maund (37.3 kilogram) of sugarcane while the power crusher owners are giving Tk 70 per maund. Moreover, they also pay in cash on the spot and even in advance.
Gur is being sold at Tk 38-40 a kg and sugar at Tk 33-36. The price situation too is diverting more sugarcane to the gur producers.
The district administration said 600 legal notices had been served on the power crusher owners to stop their operations and 14 power crushers had been seized, adding they would continue with the drive against the illegal gur manufacturers.
According to mill sources, the juice extraction rate from sugarcane was fixed at 7.5 per cent for the current session which also is not being achieved as the power crusher owners are purchasing sugarcanes of good quality at higher prices.
Alhaj M Moslem Uddin, senior vice-president of Sugarcane Growers’ Association of Natore Sugar Mill and adviser to Bangladesh Sugar Mill Cane-Growers’ Federation, said if the government did not increase the procurement price of sugarcane, the growers would not naturally be interested to supply their produces to the mill. The SGA leaders demanded a price of Tk 100 per maund of sugarcane.
Moslem also said to save the sugar industry from destruction like that of jute, the government should stop importing sugar. It also should take steps for easy disbursement of soft loans to sugarcane farmers, supply of seeds and fertilisers and providing other technical supports so that the farmers are encouraged to and benefited by supplying their sugarcane to the mill, he added.


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