India may need to imports sugar

January 2, 2024
Business Recorder |

SOLAPUR, (India): India, the No.2 sugar producer, has been a net exporter of the sweetener for the past six years.

However, it is set to ban exports in the crop year that started in October and may even be forced to import in the following year as farmers turn to other crops, according to traders, industry officials, and farmer interviews.

The production decline is driven by unusually dry conditions, fuelled by El Nino, in the western state of Maharashtra and its neighbour to the south, Karnataka, which along with Uttar Pradesh in the north account for over 80% of Indian sugar output.

Reuters spoke with more than 200 farmers during a recent visit to Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Here are key details on India’s sugar production, as well as Reuters’ findings during its trip to key growing areas in the two states:

India produced 33.1 million metric tons of sugar in the year that ended in September, behind only Brazil’s expected 46.9 million tons.

India supplies 12% of globally traded sugar. It has exported an average of 6.8 million tons of sugar over the past five years, making it the No.2 shipper in that period. It was surpassed last year by Thailand.

The Indian Sugar Mills Association said in August net production could fall to 31.7 million tons in the year that began in October.

More than 180 farmers from 11 cane-producing districts of Maharashtra and another 49 farmers from Karnataka all told Reuters lower monsoon rainfall during the crucial growth phase stunted crop development. Reuters spoke with at least 10 farmers in each of the districts that account for most production in the two states. India is home to some 50 million sugar farmers.