Excess rainfall may have damaged kharif crops, to hit sugarcane output

Topics Kharif crops | Sugarcane | Rainfall

Excess rainfall in almost all agrarian states across India may have damaged kharif crops and the same holds true for sugarecane crop. However, farmers and traders are hopeful that surplus rains this year has raised prospects of a bumper sugarcane crop as well as sugar output for the 2020-21 season. Sugar season starts from October and ends in September.

Based on the long period average (LPA), the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has reported that rainfall between June 1 and September 30 at 968.3 mm was 10 per cent higher than normal range of 880.6 mm. As per IMD, last year had seen a normal rainfall.

The occurrence of a sudden downpour has created havoc almost throughout the country with most agrarian regions reporting damage to kharif sown crops. The most crucial of them was sugarcane crop, which typically gets targeted in deficient rainfall years due to its high water requirement. 

“Overall sugarcane output is likely to decline this year (2019-20) due to the crop damage caused by floods followed by diversion of standing pre-matured plants for fodder especially in Maharashtra. But, next year i.e. 2020-21 will certainly be a bumper year in terms of sugarcane output in India with reservoirs being full and groundwater level favourable which suits cane planting,” said Prakash Naiknavare, managing director, National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories (NFCSF).

Meanwhile, a recent survey done by the private crop assessment and agri warehousing company, National Bulk Handling Corporation (NBHC) projects India’s sugarcane output to decline by 12 per cent to 351 million tonnes for the crushing season 2019-20 as compared to 400 million tonnes in the previous year. For the crushing season 2017-18, total cane output was reported at 380 million tonnes.

The survey concluded total sugarcane area to increase by 14 per cent to 5.89 million hectares (ha) for the current season compared to 5.16 million ha in the previous year.


With a conservative estimate of 15 per cent for replanting and another 15 per cent for jaggery and khandari production including a limited quantity of pre-mature cane diverted as fodder in flood-hit Maharashtra, the total cane quantity left for crushing in sugar mills is estimated at around 250 million tonnes. At an average recovery rate of 10 per cent across the country, India’s sugar output is estimated to remain at around 25 million tonnes in 2019-20. During the last crushing season i.e. 2018-19, India’s total sugar output was reported at 32.95 million tonnes.

Industry body, Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), had in July estimated India’s sugar output at 28.2 million tonnes based on normal monsoon and other optimum conditions.

“We are estimating a sugar surplus of around 15 million tonnes this year. Considering 6 million tonnes of export during the crushing season 2019-20 ending on September 30, 2020, overall ending stock is set to remain at around 8 million tonnes for the next season also,” said a senior industry official.

Praful Vithalani, President of All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA), says, “Sugar output will remain lower this year i.e. for 2019-20, but bounce back for a bumper 2020-21.”

Mills in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, India’s two leading sugar producers, are preparing to commence cane crushing in the first fortnight of November. With an estimated sugar production between 5-5.5 million tonnes this year as against 10.2 million tonnes last year, sugar crushing season in Maharashtra is estimated to decline by half to three months this year as against over six months in normal seasons including last year.

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