“Parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka are reeling under drought, which is adversely affecting cane productivity and sugar recovery,” Naiknavare said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “Production will also depend on this year’s monsoon rains.”
Sugar production in Maharashtra, the country’s second-biggest grower, may slump about 40% to 6.44 million tons in 2019-20 from this year, said Shekhar Gaikwad, Maharashtra’s sugar commissioner. The area under cane, which will be available for crushing next season, will likely drop about 28% to 843,000 hectares (2.08 million acres) from a year earlier, he said.
Sugar cane plants in a large part of Maharashtra have dried up, Gaikwad said. Many farmers are selling their cane to fodder buyers as they are currently fetching better prices than a sugar mill offers, he added. Farmers need to keep irrigating the crop for the next 6 to 8 months, but they are not certain about the monsoon’s performance this year, Gaikwad said.
The southwest monsoon, which waters more than half of India’s farmland, arrived on the southern coast more than a week later than normal, according to the weather office. The monsoon, which typically reaches Karnataka by June 5 and Maharashtra by June 10, is also delayed in the two states.
“The standing crops, such as sugar cane, need immediate watering and farmers need to arrange for irrigation because of the delay in monsoon rains,” said K.K. Singh, head of Agromet division of the India Meteorological Department.