December 27, 2023
The Indian Express | https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/indias-sugar-sector-upbeat...
India’s sugar production for the crushing year 2023-24 is expected to witness a positive trend following a boost in yield from two key sugarcane producing states – Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Millers in both the states have reported increased per-hectare yield which has led them to revise their production figures by 10 to 15 per cent. At the national level, the sugar production is expected to reach 305 lakh tonnes (lt) as against the 291.50 lt at the start of the season, officials said.
The uptick in production comes mainly from Marathwada, Ahmednagar and Solapur regions of Maharashtra as well as the northern belt of Karnataka.
Bhairavnath B Thombare, CMD of Natural Sugar and Allied Industries – a Latur-headquartered company which runs two mills in Dharashiv and Yavatmal districts of Maharashtra, said they have seen a 15 per cent increase in per-hectare yields. “The unseasonal rain has come as a blessing in disguise for both the states. In our region the per-hectare yield has reached 95 tonnes. We have subsequently revised our production estimates,” he said.
Industry sources told The Indian Express that Maharashtra, as per the fresh estimates, would produce 90 lt, while Karnataka’s production figure would stand at 42 lt. “A 10 per cent increase in Uttar Pradesh’s 110 lt production would push the country’s total estimate to around 305 lt. Thus, the initial scare of hand-to-mouth sugar availability is likely to not materialise,” said an industry source.
With a domestic consumption at 280 lt and a carryover stock of 50 lt, the total excess availability of sugar as of now stands at 75 lakh tonnes.
Buoyed by the increased availability of sugar, the industry has reignited its demand to reinstate the original ethanol blending programme.
Earlier in December, the central government banned the production of ethanol from sugar juice or sugar syrup and asked mills to produce ethanol only from B heavy or C molasses. However on December 15, the ban was rescinded and diversion of 17 lt of sugar was allowed for production.
“We feel a second tranche would be announced soon which would allow further diversion to 25 lt,” said an UP based miller.
Thombare, on his part, said mills in Maharashtra have invested to the tune of Rs 17,000 crore in ethanol production and this sudden ban has put a spanner in their finances.
“We will be meeting union minister Piyush Goyal and his secretary to ask them to reinstate the original ethanol diversion programme. Financial health of mills and earning of farmers are dependent on it,” he said.