In recent discussions, leaders in the sugar industry have been pushing for an increase in the Minimum Selling Price (MSP) for sugar, proposing a significant jump from the current rate of ₹31 per kg to ₹45 per kg. This demand stems from the industry’s assertion that the current MSP fails to cover all the expenses involved in producing and transporting sugar, leaving little room for profitability.

Additionally, the industry points out the unpredictable nature of sugar prices, which can fluctuate widely due to various factors, including market dynamics and government policies. Advocates for a higher MSP argue that it would provide a safety net for sugar mills in case prices drop, especially considering the rising costs associated with sugar production. 

Why Was the MSP Introduced? 

The introduction of the MSP for sugar was prompted by the need to address the financial challenges faced by sugar mills and ensure fair compensation for sugarcane farmers. Initially established in 2009–10, the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane has undergone significant increases over the years, nearly doubling in value. However, sugar prices have not seen a corresponding rise, leading to a disparity between the cost of sugarcane and the selling price of sugar. This discrepancy was further exacerbated by the deregulation of the sugar release mechanism in 2012–2013, which resulted in a sharp decline in sugar prices. In response to these challenges, the government intervened by setting the minimum selling price of sugar at ₹2,900 per quintal in 2018 and implementing a release mechanism to stabilise prices. 

Why Raise the MSP? 

1. Rising FRP vs. stagnant sugar prices: One of the primary arguments in favour of raising the MSP is the significant increase in the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane, which serves as the minimum amount that mills are required to pay farmers. Despite this rise in sugarcane prices, sugar prices have remained stagnant, resulting in diminished profits for mills. 

2. Price fluctuations: The sugar market is characterized by volatility, with prices often fluctuating unpredictably due to factors such as government regulations and market dynamics. The MSP was introduced to provide a safety net for sugar mills by establishing a minimum price that ensures they can cover their production costs even during periods of price fluctuation. 

3. Liquidity issues and cane arrears: The unpredictable nature of sugar prices has made it challenging for mills to maintain stable cash flows, leading to delays in payments to sugarcane farmers. This has resulted in a rise in cane arrears, negatively impacting the financial stability of farmers and the overall functioning of the sugar industry. By raising the MSP, mills would be better equipped to manage their finances and ensure timely payments to farmers. 

4. Weather impact: Weather patterns such as El Nino can have a significant impact on agricultural production, including sugarcane. Disruptions in sugarcane production due to adverse weather conditions can lead to reduced sugar output, affecting both farming communities and the viability of the sugar industry as a whole. Increasing the MSP could help mitigate the financial risks associated with weather-related production disruptions. 

Impact of increased MSP 

1. On sugar prices: An increase in the MSP is likely to result in higher retail prices for sugar, as mills would pass on the higher production costs to consumers. However, the extent of this impact would depend on various factors such as supply-demand dynamics, government interventions, and input costs.

2. On the sugar industry: Raising the MSP could have both direct and indirect effects on the sugar industry. Directly, it could help maintain the profitability of sugar mills by ensuring that they receive adequate compensation for their products. Indirectly, it could contribute to the overall stability of the industry by providing mills with a financial buffer against price fluctuations. 

3. On farmers: Higher MSP means that sugarcane farmers would receive higher prices for their produce, improving their financial welfare and ensuring that they are adequately compensated for their labour.

4. On consumers: Increased sugar prices resulting from a higher MSP could impact consumer behaviour and consumption patterns. Higher sugar prices may lead to reduced consumption, particularly among price-sensitive consumers, and could contribute to inflationary pressures in the economy. 

Factors to Consider Before Increasing MSP 

Before deciding on an increase in the MSP for sugar, several factors need to be carefully considered: 

1. Current industry situation: Understanding the current challenges facing the sugar industry and projecting future scenarios based on market trends and government policies. 

2. Regulations and policies: Evaluating the impact of government regulations and policies on sugar mills, including pricing mechanisms and trade restrictions. 

3. Stakeholder impact: Assessing how an increase in MSP would affect various stakeholders, including sugar mills, farmers, and consumers, and balancing their interests. 

4. Balance: Striking a balance between the sustainability of the sugar industry and the affordability of sugar for consumers, ensures that any increase in MSP is reasonable and justified. 

5. Weather patterns: Considering the potential impact of weather patterns such as El Nino on sugar production and pricing, and implementing measures to mitigate risks. 

6. International markets: Analysing global trends in sugar production and pricing, and understanding how international factors may influence domestic prices. 


The demand for an increased MSP for sugar presents a complex challenge with significant implications for the sugar industry, sugarcane farmers, and consumers. While an increase in MSP could address the financial struggles of sugar mills and ensure fair compensation for farmers, it is essential to consider its potential impact on consumers and the overall sugar market. A balanced approach that prioritizes efficiency, explores alternative revenue streams, and encourages collaboration among stakeholders is crucial for ensuring a sustainable future for the industry while safeguarding the interests of all involved parties. Ultimately, finding the right balance is key to ensuring a sweet and sustainable future for the sugar industry.

(The author is Managing Director, Karmayogi Ankushrao Tope Samarth SSK Ltd., Ankushnagar in Jalna district, Maharashtra)