India’s sugar output falls to lowest in five years

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Indian sugar mills made 77.95 lakh tonnes of sugar till December 31, that is, the first three months of the current sugar season (October 2019-September 2020). This is the lowest in five years. In contrast, the output of the sweetener in the corresponding period of the earlier 2018-19 sugar season was 111.72 lakh tonnes, which was 30 percent more than in the current season so far, according to a press statement from the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA).

The production of sugar was lowest since the 2014-15 season when it stood at 74.95 lakh tonnes.

Presently, 437 mills are crushing sugarcane, compared to 507 mills in the same period of the earlier season.

In Maharashtra, 137 sugar mills, which are in operation, made 16.50 lakh tonnes till December 31, against 187 sugar mills which had produced 44.57 lakh tonnes last year up to the same period. From the beginning of the season till December 31, 2019, average sugar recovery in the state stood at 10 percent, against 10.5 percent achieved in the corresponding period of 2018-19. This is because a part of the crushing consists of the flood-affected sugarcane, which lost some sucrose content because of waterlogging, ISMA informed.

According to reports of the Commissioner (Sugar), Maharashtra, two sugar mills — one in Ahmednagar and another in Aurangabad district — closed operations majorly because of non-availability of labour for harvesting and less availability of sugarcane.

On the other hand, in Uttar Pradesh, 119 sugar mills produced 33.16 lakh tonnes of sugar till December end, with an average recovery of 10.71 percent. In the last 2018-19 season, 117 sugar mills, which were in operation as on the same date last year, produced 31.07 lakh tonnes of sugar with an average recovery of 10.84 percent. About 18 to 20 sugar mills are also diverting ‘B’ category heavy molasses for the production of ethanol.