Sugarcane growers in Western UP, unhappy with lower yields, may partially switch to maize.

“The demand for maize will remain as ethanol producers cannot procure the grain even if they are willing to pay ₹2,300/quintal, and I have decided to switch some of my sugarcane fields to maize next year,” says Jitender Hooda. a farmer from Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh. Many farmers in western Uttar Pradesh are complaining of a 10-13 percent drop in sugarcane yields this year, and they blame the popular variety CO-0238 for the decline. Hooda, who arrived in Ludhiana on Tuesday to talk to researchers from the Indian Institute of Maize Research (IIMR) about the benefits of switching from sugarcane to maize and what needs to be done to get the best yield, said he would start per acre and produce seeds to distribute and develop continued buying interest from ethanol companies.

“Although sugarcane is profitable, prices are not rising as they should. On the other hand, maize is not available in our region, though distillery representatives are looking for it and offering ₹2,300 per quintal (compared to the MSP of ₹2,090), Hooda said.  Plans are made to double his profits by growing corn seeds on one hectare. “I grow maize three times a year and if there is no interest, I go back to sugarcane. The risk is worth taking.

While farmers feel that the CO-0238 variety has not produced well this year, Bakshi Ram, the a breeder who developed the variety said the weather was to blame for the poor productivity.“It’s not about diversity. In April-May 2023, climatic conditions in Western UP reduced the yield and this did not affect other areas where the CO-0238 variety was grown, Ram told Businessline.

Bad summer

During the summer there were 2-3 rains, which was not good for sugarcane, Whenever the summer is not good, cultivation usually results in a fall in sugarcane production even though the altitude is good” Besides, sugarcane plantations in some areas like Saharanpur, Shamli, Bijnor and Muzaffarnagar are suffering from floods and seasonal rains. Western -UP accounts for 40 to 45 percent of the state’s sugar production, with the rest being shared by central and eastern regions. According to the All India Sugar Trade Association, sugar production in UP, the largest cane-producing state, is expected to grow by 9.3 percent to 11.7 million tonnes this season (October-September) (from 10.7 million tons last season).

The Indian Sugar Manufacturers Association (ISMA) said that sugar production in Uttar Pradesh for the current season till January 15 was 4.57 million tonnes against 4.07 million tonnes a year ago and will release the full season estimate soon. But some industry officials said it will not affect sugar production or cane availability. “Due to the current foggy conditions, the rose tree can remain in the Western UP for a longer time, and when the sunshine appears, the productivity will also increase. It is good for factories that the recovery (of cane sugar) in Western UP is 0, 3 percentage points higher than last year, although the total yield in the state is 0.8 percentage points higher,” says a senior official of UP sugar mills association. UP is said to have recovered 9.9 percent this year.

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