While the government had estimated that India would export 15 lakh tonnes of sugar in the 2006-07 season, analysts believe this target won’t be met. With only six months left for the season to end, they feel India will be able to export only eight lakh tonnes, mainly due to low global prices and limited capacity at ports.
“Seeing the export viability at the current global price and feasibility at ports to handle shipment, India will be able to export about eight lakh tonnes of sugar this year,” commodities brokerage house K.S. Commodities analyst Rakesh Sharma said.
Till now, sugar export could be around two lakh tonnes though the government has issued release orders for a little over eight lakh tonnes for export under both advance and open general licences, Sharma added.
It is estimated that about 15 lakh tonnes of sugar would get exported during the 2006-07 season though the Centre has not fixed any target for export, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had told Parliament on 9 March.
“The export till March-end will be around 2.5 lakh tonnes and it is not possible to export the remaining 12.5 lakh tonnes in the six months during April-September,” Sharma said.
He said buyers are interested at a rate of $300-305 (Rs13,200-13,860) per tonne while the sellers are asking for $310-315 per tonne.
On the position at ports, Sharma said Mumbai, which handles the maximum volume of the country’s sugar export, is equipped to manage a maximum of 75,000 tonnes in a month. “Besides, the shipment would also be affected during monsoons between June and August,” he added.
Currently, India exports sugar to Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Indonesia and Africa mainly from Mumbai, Chennai and Tuticorin ports, an exporter said, adding that some quantity of sugar has also been sent to Pakistan which is actually meant for trans-shipment to Afghanistan.
The London-based leading sugar broker Czarnikow Sugar has also pegged India’s export at 15 lakh tonnes this year while saying the production could go as high as 249 lakh tonnes. Ban on sugar export, imposed last July to check rise in domestic prices, was completely lifted in January.
With production likely to be 238.34 lakh tonnes in the 2006-07 season according to official estimate, sugar industry fears a glut in the market despite the claims of export to be around 15 lakh tonnes.