Sugar trade body AISTA on Monday projected the country’s sugar production to be around 31.6 million tonnes for the 2023-24 season (October-September), about four per cent lower than the previous season.
The estimated net domestic sugar production excludes diversion of sucrose of about 2 million tonnes for ethanol production, it said releasing the first production estimates. With estimated sugar production of 31.6 million tonnes and opening stock of 5.7 million tonnes, the availability of sugar in the country is likely to be 37.3 million tonnes, which is higher than the estimated domestic consumption of 29 million tonnes, it added.
The closing stock of sugar would be around 8.2 million tonnes in the 2023-24 season. In the previous 2022-23 season, sugar production was 32.9 million tonnes.
According to the All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA) Chairman Praful Vithalani, the first estimate has been made taking into account the quantum of sugarcane crushed and yield and recovery rates achieved so far; the remaining standing crop and the diversions of sucrose allowed for production of ethanol.
The production estimates are subject to three per cent variation, he said.
Sugar production in Uttar Pradesh is pegged higher at 11.7 million tonnes for 2023-24 season, it was lower at 9.6 million tonnes in Maharashtra and 4.7 million tonnes in Karnataka for the same period.
Sugar production in Uttar Pradesh — the country’s second largest producing state — is estimated higher than 10.7 million tonnes achieved last season. AISTA said the diversion of cane to Gur and Khandsari units in Uttar Pradesh is more than the last season, as they are giving higher cane prices to farmers.
Overall, the crop is good in UP and the mills are expected to operate till March-end and may be till the first fortnight of April due to climate change, foggy weather and lower sunshine, it said.
Whereas production in Maharashtra — the country’s largest sugar producing state — is pegged lower at 9.6 million tonnes for 2023-24 season, as against 10.7 million tonnes in the previous season.
“The unseasonal rains in Maharashtra have increased the yield and sucrose content. Further, the unregistered cane has also increased the availability of sugarcane which is likely to result in more sugar production than initially expected,” AISTA said.
Due to the problem of finding harvesting labour, the season will prolong in the state. This will give more time for standing sugarcane to mature, increasing the yield and sucrose content in cane, it said and added that most of the mills in Maharashtra are now expected to operate till March-end, it added.
Similarly in the country’s third largest sugar producing state of Karnataka, the production is estimated to be lower at 4.7 million tonnes in 2023-24, as against 5.6 million tonnes in the previous season.
AISTA said a fear was expressed in the beginning of the season that in Karnataka, there would be a drastic reduction in sugar production due to drought and the season was also expected to be of short duration of around 80-90 days.