The Centre will assess the overall production of sugar and its demand scenario next month to decide if the additional quantity of the commodity can be released for export beyond the 60 lakh tonnes (lt) approved until May 31. This comes amid the prospect of over 400 lt of sugar production (including the quantity that will be diverted to ethanol) in current sugar season to September.

“We will take a call in January as crushing is in full swing now,” said Sanjeev Chopra, Food Secretary, when asked if the Government is considering releasing additional sugar export quota. Speaking on the sidelines of the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) annual general meeting, he said the situation is comfortable and the production is likely to exceed 410 lt in the current season.

The Centre on November 5 permitted the export of 60 lt of sugar, while continuing the export policy through permits. The Food Ministry allowed the shipments by allocating export quota to each sugar mill and also made the allotted quantity exchangeable between mills.

Ethanol blending

Chopra said ethanol blending is likely to be 12 per cent in the current ethanol year (December-November) after the country achieved a 10 per cent blending target in the last season. The Government aims to increase the blending to 15 per cent in 2023-24 season.

Earlier, addressing the ISMA annual general meeting, he said the Government’s subsidised interest scheme on bank loans has been extended to create an ethanol production capacity of 650 crore litres out of which firms having a capacity of 350 crore litres are already operational.

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The Food Secretary urged the sugar industry to look beyond conventional sugar and try to produce the products which consumers demand. “The first message I’d like to give is to go beyond conventional sugar. We are not actually giving as much focus to refined sugar, speciality sugar, sugar for particular sectors...What is required is that we need to produce what the customer wants,” he said. “For instance, for the beverages industry why would you need to produce crystal sugar when probably what they need is liquid sugar,” he wondered.

Harvester rebate

Secondly, apart from ethanol the industry should expand to areas like biogas from bagasse, he suggested. Also the sugar mills should consider to ‘go green’ by utilising the shes to produce potash and work on zero effluent emission.

Addressing the sugar millers, ISMA President Aditya Jhunjhunwala said: “a provision may be included in Sugarcane (Control) Order 1966, to provide a rebate that can be deducted for FRP/agreed price of sugarcane to be paid by the mill, in case of sugar mills where Mechanical Harvesters are used, as non-cane material gets included in mechanically harvested cane. Also, currently rebate for binding material is 1 per cent which is too low as compared to actuals. We would also request that the Transport rebate for ‘purchase centre’ procurement be revised every year.”

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