Illegal crushing of sugarcane by power crushers in Natore is going on unabated that may hamper sugar production in achieving the target, much to the worry of the authorities of two state-run sugar mills in the district.
The production target of the North Bengal Sugar Mills (NBSM) and Natore Sugar Mills (NSM) may not be achieved due to possible shortage of sugarcane as the owners of power crushers have already crushed 2.04 lakh tonnes of sugarcane in the mill zone areas of the district.
Managing Director of North Bengal Sugar Mills (NBSM) Md Humayan Kabir said, 445 owners continue crushing by power crushers in the mill zone area. They have crushed about 1.5 lakh tonnes of sugarcane in the mill zone area this year. They will crush around one lakh tonnes more the rest of the days in this season.
The production target of the mill may not be achieved this year because of possible sugarcane shortage and illegal power crushing, he added.
"Normally we start production of the sugar mill from the first week of November but this time we started the production from the first week of December. As a result, the farmers started crushing sugarcane by power crushers in the mill zone area," said the MD.
"Around 243 growers have already crushed about 54,000 tonnes of sugarcane with power crushers and they will crush more 54,000 tonnes in next 30 days at Natore Sugar Mills zone," said Md Rafiqul Islam, managing director (MD) of NSM.
The rate of sugar recovery is decreasing and it is around five percent now, while it was around more than seven percent five to six years ago, he said.
"We have fixed target to crush 1.32 lakh tonnes of sugarcane but it may not be achieved due to possible shortage of sugarcane. Apart from this, the owners of power crushers are crushing 1.4 lakh tonnes of sugarcane illegally. If the sugar mills could crush the sugarcane, it might have brought profit to the public industry," Rafiqul added.
"I cultivate sugarcane on 10 bighas of land and produce around 102 tonnes of sugarcane. But sugar mill authorities buy only 1.2 tonnes from a grower like me in a week. Then how will I sell my sugarcane to the mills?" said Masud Rana, a grower of Raypur area in Lalpur upazila.
"When a grower sells the sugarcane to mills, he gets Tk 140 per maund and the mill authority takes times for payment. But when the same grower sells the sugarcane to the crusher owner, he can sell it at Tk 220 per maund and get instant cash," Masud added.
On top of it, it will be completely a hassle-free business when you will handle it with the crusher owner, said another sugarcane grower Majdar Sarker of Keshabpur area in Gopalpur municipality.