India's government is not ready to take a decision about whether or not to allow sugar exports this year, and will need several months to assess the issue, a government official said on Wednesday.

India, the world's second largest sugar producer after Brazil, has banned sugar exports since June 2022 with the aim of guaranteeing to cover local consumption, as well as diverting sucrose to ethanol production.

"It is still early days," Sanjeev Chopra, India's Secretary of Food and Public Distribution, told reporters on the sidelines of the Citi ISO Datagro Sugar Conference in New York.

He said sugar exports were unlikely to resume before the government had guarantees that there would be enough sugar to satisfy local demand plus stocks for at least two and a half months, and sufficient sucrose to divert to the ethanol program.

Chopra said the government saw ethanol production as a clear priority over resuming sugar exports.

India's sugar industry body ISMA recently asked the government to allow exports of 2 million metric tons.

It has yet to receive an answer, said ISMA Director General Deepak Ballani, who was also at the conference.

Ballani said India would have 9 million tons of sugar in hand at the end of the current season in September, after diversion to ethanol production - enough for local consumption and exports.