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Zahid Hossain Biplob
The country’s sugar industry has not been able to be profitable, although local factories continue to maintain world standard in production.
Identifying the problems of the state-run entity, the ministry of industries (MoI) has taken up several projects to this end, said a top ranking official of the Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC).
A K M Delwar Hossain, chairman of the organisation while talking to Bangladesh Post on Wednesday said, the sugar industry of the country will turn profitable very soon.
He said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has a plan so that the industry no longer remains a burden with continued losses, but rather brings in profits.
The PM wants quick development of this sector through multipurpose use of the industry, he said adding “So we all have been working accordingly.” he added.
“We have taken up some projects for the diversification of products in the sugar mills considering their existing potentials,” said a top ranking official of the Industries Ministry.
The government has initiated a move to diversify products in the state-owned sugar mills by tapping the existing potential in order to make them profitable, officials said.
Besides, the Ministry has directed the BSFIC to carry out feasibility studies on the diversification of products, he added.
To encourage sugarcane growers, the price of sugarcane was fixed at Tk 350 per quintal and payment is being made through mobile banking.
According to sources, out of total 15 state-run sugar mills in the country only Carew & Co.(Bangladesh) Ltd is the profit-making organisation now.
To make the mills profitable, power generating from North Bengal Sugar Mills in Natore on co-generation method alongside producing refined sugar, has set up a sugar refinery, aiming to give a boost to the earnings of the mills and meet the country’s growing electricity demand.
Co-generation is the production of electricity in combination with another industrial process.
In phases, refineries and power generation on co-generation method in five sugar mills in North Bengal, Rajshahi, Joypurhat, Mobarakganj and Shyampur will be set up in all sugar mills of the country.
The North Bengal Sugar Mills was chosen initially as the first mills to undergo electricity generation on co-generation method as well as setting up of a sugar refinery.
Of the 6 MW generated power, some 2 MW would be used for meeting own demand of the mills while the rest 4 MW, will go either to the Rural Electrification Board (REB) or the national grid.
Besides, a sugar refinery has also been set up at the mills to produce 40,000 metric tonnes of refined white sugar annually, to boost its revenue generation.
The official said, the annual sugar production capacity of the country’s 15 state-run sugar mills is around 2,10,440 metric tonnes whereas the real sugar production in recent years has came down to less than 1 lakh metric tonnes due to shortage of sugarcane.
The sugar mills have to depend on their own boilers to meet their electricity demand during production season as those remain closed throughout the year except for 3-4 months in the season.
Under the circumstances, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier directed the authorities concerned to look into whether it is feasible to generate power and sugar at the mills, during the off season.