Agri Business

Sugar output to slide 5% next season on poor rains, says industry body

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on September 28, 2015


Prolonged dry spells in Maharashtra, Karnataka seen affecting cane production

A poor monsoon through July and August is set to cut India’s sugar output in the upcoming sugar season (October-September) by 4.6 per cent to 27 million tonnes (mt), the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said here on Monday.

“…In the preliminary estimates released by ISMA in July, sugar production was estimated at 28 mt…considering further poor rainfall during Southwest monsoon in July and August in Maharashtra and Karnataka, ISMA has revised its estimated sugar production in 2015-16 to around 27 mt,” said an official statement.

Mills have produced 28.3 mt in the current season and another 50,000 tonnes could be produced over the next 15 days, it added.

Sugar stocks are likely to rise to 9.6 mt at the start of the season on October 1, from 7.5 million last year, said Abinash Verma, Director-General, ISMA. Domestic consumption is pegged at 25.1 mt.

Maharashtra worst hit

While overall acreage is estimated at 5.3 million hectares (mh) – just 0.4 per cent lower than the current season (October to September), the lack of rainfall is likely to hurt the yield per hectare of the crop in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

It is a trend that could continue in Maharashtra, India’s largest sugar-producing State, which was facing a third drought in four years until late showers this month helped reverse a prolonged dry spell.

The Marathwada region, in particular, was worst hit this Kharif season and had between 45-50 days of little to no rainfall.

“The situation in Maharashtra is not good due to the water situation. Sugarcane cultivation is water-intensive. During a drought, crop growth is stunted and each stage is affected,” said AK Srivastava, Principal scientist in-charge of the Agro-Meteorology Unit, Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow. Sugarcane acreage in Maharashtra is pegged at 1.05 mh but ISMA has revised its 2015-16 sugar output to 9 mt from 9.7 mt in its July estimates. The figure is 14.3 per cent less than the output of 10.51 mt in the current season.

“When there’s a drought at the tillering stage or at the initiation of the ratoon, the effects are devastating. The plant may not recover entirely. Farmers will have to look for alternatives if there’s a similar situation next year,” Srivastava added.

The association expects sugar output to fall to 4.6 mt in Karnataka next season, down from 5 mt in 2014-15. Production in Uttar Pradesh, however, is expected to rise to 7.5 mt next season from 7.1 mt this year, due to favourable weather and better varieties being cultivated.

Overseas sales are likely to rise after March when global prices firm following inclement weather in various sugarcane growing countries, said a leading consultant at an event here on Monday.

Exports to pick up

“I’m optimistic that India will export into a rising market by March as bad weather in Central America, Thailand, the EU and parts of India will lead to a rise in prices,” Jonathan Kingsman, Founder, Platts’ Kingman, told reporters.

The Indian Sugar Exim Corporation is likely to contract 100,000 tonnes of sugar for exports in the coming season. Around 1.1 mt of the sweetener have been exported in 2014-15.

Published on September 28, 2015
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