Agri Business

India’s sugar exports reach 7.5 mt, may exceed 9 mt by September

Prabhudatta Mishra | | Updated on: May 19, 2022

Till now, exporters have signed deals to ship about 72 lakh tonnes of sugar

Indonesia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the UAE and Malaysia, apart from some African countries are key importers

The country’s sugar exports have reached 7.5 million tonnes (mt) so far in current sugar season (October-September), while another 1.5 mt already contracted are in pipeline for shipments in next two months.

“It is a milestone for the country as for the first time record sugar has been shipped out of the country, that too without any subsidy,” a Food Ministry official said. Last season, the shipments were to the tune of 7 mt, exceeding the target of 6 mt. In sugar seasons 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, 0.62 mt, 3.8 mt and 5.96 mt of sugar got exported, respectively.

“Export of sugar in current sugar season is 15 times of export compared with 2017-18. The major importing countries are Indonesia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the UAE and Malaysia, apart from some African countries,” the Food Ministry said in a statement.

About ₹14,456 core was released to sugar mills in the past five years to facilitate export of sugar and ₹2,000 crore as carrying cost for maintaining buffer stock, totalling the subsidy outgo at nearly ₹16,500 crore. But, this season there is no need for subsidy as there is an uptrend in global sugar prices.

As higher realisation from exports help sugar mills to clear cane dues of farmers, the government has been simultaneously encouraging these companies to divert excess sugarcane to ethanol so that there is no glut in global market, officials said.

Breaking sugar cycle

As there is a need to break the so called sugar cycle in which India used to have two years of shortage after every three years of over production, the government has been trying to find a permanent solution to address the problem of excess sugar so that farmers do not shift from cane which normally they were doing due to lower realisation.

The target of 20 per cent blending of fuel grade ethanol with petrol by 2025 has been set with the vision to boost agricultural economy, to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuel, to save foreign exchange on account of crude oil import bill and to reduce the air pollution, the ministry said.

Till 2014, ethanol distillation capacity of molasses-based distilleries was only about 215 crore litres per annum, but it has reached to 569 crore litres now. Capacity of grain-based distilleries, which was 206 crore litres in 2014, is now at 298 crore litres per year. Thus, the total ethanol production capacities have increased from 421 crore litres to 867 crore litres in past eight years.

The ministry also said that supply of ethanol to OMCs was only 38 crore litres with blending levels of only 1.53 per cent during ethanol supply year (ESY) 2013-14 that runs from December to November. In ESY 2020-21, as high as 302.30 crore litres of ethanol have been supplied to oil marketing companies (OMCs) thereby, achieving 8.1 per cent blending levels.

But, in the current year, about 186 crore litres of ethanol have been blended with petrol until May 8, achieving 9.90 per cent blending. “In 2021-22, we will be achieving 10 per cent blending target,” the official said.

Published on May 19, 2022
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