Flood-induced crushing delays lead to 65% drop in sugar production

Farmers working in a sugar cane field
Domestic sugar production in the ongoing 2019-20 crushing season dropped by nearly 65 per cent to 485,000 tonnes as on November 15, thanks to delayed crushing in two major producing states of Maharashtra and Karnataka.


According to the Indian Sugar Mills Association (Isma), sugar production stood at a much higher level of 1.34 million tonnes (MT) in the same period last year.


Quoting trade and port information, it said sugar mills had contracted for export of 1.4 mt sugar, of which 200,000 tonnes had been shipped.


The mills in Maharashtra are yet to start crushing because of floods and the consequent inundation this year. Last year, 149 mills in the state were already operating and had produced 631,000 tonnes of the sweetener by this time. Now, the Maharashtra government has decided to start crushing from November 22.


Floods affected Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara and Pune with prolonged inundation this year. As a result, the area under cane in the state dropped 33% to 776,000 hectares, compared with 1.15 million hectares (MH) last year. Sugar production is pegged to drop 40% from 10 MT in 2018-19 to 6.2 MT in 2019-20.


In Karnataka, 18 mills operating as on November 15 had produced 143,000 tonnes of sugar, compared with 53 mills’ output of 360,000 tonnes last year. Heavy rains had affected North Karnataka districts of Belgaum and Bijapur earlier this season. The cane area this year is expected to be 400,000 hectares, against 500,000 hectares in 2018-19. The sugar output in the state is likely to be 3.2 mt, against 4.43 mt last year.


In Uttar Pradesh, the country’s top sugar producer, the 69 mills that had launched crushing operations as on November 15, had produced 293,000 tonnes of sugar. Last year, a similar number of mills in operation had produced 176,000 tonnes of the sweetener.


Meanwhile, two mills each in Uttarakhand and Bihar, one in Haryana, three in Gujarat, and five in Tamil Nadu had commenced crushing as on November 15, and together produced 49,000 tonnes of sugar.


In the current season, UP is estimated to account for 12 mt, or nearly 45 per cent of the country’s estimated sugar production in 2019-20. According to Isma’s earlier report, India’s overall sugar production is expected to fall 20 per cent to 26 mt this season, compared with more than 33 mt in 2018-19.


The estimated fall in sugar production in the current season is also partly due to an incremental increase in ethanol production, which will lead to the diversion of a portion of domestic cane harvest for mixing in the fuel.

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