INDIA: Maha sugar production seen rising 74% on year

Published: 06/12/2017, 5:29:16 PM

Sugar output in Maharashtra is set to see a dramatic revival this year with officials estimating a production of 7.3 million tonnes for 2017/18, a rise of 74% from last year which was affected by the drought, according to the Times of India newspaper.

The state has seen a wide variation in sugar output over the last few years. In 2014/15, it posted a historic high of 10.5 million tonnes. However, on account of the drought witnessed in 2015, sugar production last year posted a 10-year low of 4.2 million tonnes.

The rise in output this year will bring the state on par with its average production, officials say. "Last year, the production was very low. But we had a good monsoon in 2016 so production this year will rise to an average level of output," said state sugar commissioner Sambhaji Kadu Patil.

Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are the leaders in the production of sugar in the country. Last year's monsoon saw the resurgence of cane cultivation in the state, especially within the arid Marathwada belt. The area under cane cultivation rose to 900,000 hectares from 633,000 hectares in the 2015 drought year.

Officials say cane cultivation in Marathwada doubled last year from 100,000 to 200,000 hectares. This includes the dry zone of Latur, Parbhani, Nanded, Hingoli and Osmanabad.Cane cultivation in Western Maharashtra's Solapur district has also shot up.

The cane available for crushing which was just 37.2 million tonnes last year is expected to grow to 65 million tonnes this year.

The sugar sector expects a slight dip in sugar prices. This is because imports and sales from Uttar Pradesh within Maharashtra will add to the revived sugar stock here.

"In April prices were INR36-INR37 per kg. They could fall to INR35 later this year," said Sanjeev Babar, managing director of the Maharashra State Cooperarative Sugar Factories Federation.

The government has allowed the import of 500,000 tonnes of sugar till June. "This is leading to a price drop of INR150 per quintal," said Babar.

In addition, cane farmers from Uttar Pradesh have diverted production from jaggery to sugar since the UP government's cane price is higher than the central government's support price.

"Sugar sales from Uttar Pradesh within Maharashtra have gone up as a result and this will also lower the price," said Babar.