Based on the satellite images procured late last month, the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) has estimated the total acreage under sugarcane in the country at around 58.28 lakh hectares for the 2022-23 sugar season (October-September) . This is about four per cent higher than the 2021-22 season when the cane area was around 55.83 lakh hectares. 

The increase in acreage and the anticipated increase in sugarcane production were discussed in the meeting of ISMA today (Friday). Representatives from sugar-producing States from across the country took part in the meeting.

Images of the cane area, field reports regarding expected yield, sugar recovery, withdrawal percentage, the impact of previous and current year’s rainfall, water availability in reservoirs, expected rainfall during monsoon 2022 and other related aspects were discussed in detail during the meeting and accordingly, preliminary estimates for the 2022-23 season have been released.

According to ISMA, net sugar production before considering diversion towards ethanol is estimated to be 399.97 lakh tonnes (lt) against 394 lt estimated for the current season. However, the diversion of sugar towards the production of ethanol is estimated to be higher.

Ethanol production

Till July 10 in the current season, the total contracted quantity of ethanol is 444.42 crore litres. Out of this, 362.16 crore litres are from the sugar industry. Of this, ethanol manufactured from sugarcane juice and B-Heavy molasses (BHM) is estimated at 349.49 crore litres (79.33 crore litres from sugarcane juice and 270.16 crore litres from BHM). This translates into a diversion of about 34 lakh tonnes of sugar into ethanol, as previously estimated by ISMA.

Since a significant quantity of sugarcane juice/syrup and B-molasses will again be diverted into ethanol production, a proportionate quantity of sugar will get diverted the next season also, ISMA said in it statement. With higher ethanol production capacity and continued surplus sugarcane next season, a larger quantity of cane juice/syrup and B-molasses will get diverted to ethanol.

During the next year 2022-23 season, since the target of 12 per cent blending is expected to be achieved, a total of about 545 crore litres of ethanol would be required and supplied. Accordingly, it is estimated that the diversion of cane juice and B-molasses to ethanol will reduce sugar production by about 45 lt in the next season compared with about 34 lt diversion estimated this year.

“Therefore, after accounting for the reduction of 45 lakh tonnes in sugar production due to diversion of cane juice and B-molasses to ethanol, ISMA estimates sugar production in 2022-23 at around 355 lt of sugar and consumption would be around around 275 lt. Therefore, it would leave a surplus of about 80 lt which needs to be exported,” ISMA said.

ISMA’s estimates are made assuming normal rainfall and other optimum conditions during the remaining period.