Lack of rain this year has taken a toll on sugar production with the National Cooperative Sugar Mill (NCSM) at P. Mettupatti near Alanganallur here aiming at a production of just 1.24 lakh quintals this year as against the 2.15 lakh quintals produced during the last season.

Officials expect to crush around 1.3 lakh metric tonnes of sugarcane. During the last season, 2.25 lakh metric tonnes of sugarcane were crushed between December 1, 2012 and May 3, 2013.

Special representative for the Government of Tamil Nadu in New Delhi S.T.K. Jaggaiyan, Collector L. Subramanian and MLAs R. Samy, K. Tamilarasan, M.V. Karuppiah and M. Muthuramalingam were present during the commencement of the crushing season on Thursday.

Crushing started with the symbolic blow of a siren and the operation of a conveyor that pushed the canes into the crusher.

T. Alagarsamy, secretary, Southern Sugarcane Farmers Uplift Association, said crushing had begun without the State announcing the procurement price this year. “We expect it to be fixed somewhere around Rs.3,500 a tonne,” he said.

Association president K. Abbas said their expectation was very genuine, especially in view of the steep increase in input costs and shortfall in production. “At present, it costs us about Rs.40,000 for growing cane on an acre. The cane cutting charges had also gone up to Rs.700 per acre,” he noted.

M. Sembukutty, Managing Director, NCSM, said as of now the sugarcane growers would be paid Rs.2,339.50 per tonne – the amount fixed during the last season. They would be given the differential amount as and when the government announced the revised price for this season, he added.

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