New Delhi: Sugar production in India, the world’s second largest producer after Brazil, could touch a record 32 million tonnes in 2017-18, trade lobby Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said on Thursday.
ISMA’s latest estimates indicate that the sugar glut is likely to worsen in the coming months since India’s annual consumption of the sweetener is estimated at 25 million tonnes.
Due to a steep fall in wholesale prices mills are unable to pay sugarcane farmers on time—currently these dues are estimated at over Rs19,000 crore.
In Uttar Pradesh sugar mills owed farmers Rs10,372 crore till 27 April, showed data from the UP Sugar Mills Association.
Going by ISMA’s estimates, sugar production in India is likely to be between 31.5 to 32 million tonnes in the 2017-18 season (October to September), compared to 20.3 million tonnes produced a year ago, or at a staggering 55% rise in production year-on-year.
Current estimates by the trade body is a sharp upward revision from its January forecast of 25.1 million tonnes production. The food ministry does not formally release sugar production estimates.
A senior food ministry official who did not want to be named said that mills have already produced 30.5 million tonnes of sugar.
However, according to ISMA, till 30 April, mills have produced over 31 million tonnes of sugar and 130 mills, mostly in Uttar Pradesh, are still crushing cane.
To help mills clear dues to farmers the Centre on Wednesday announced Rs5.5 per quintal subsidy to farmers. The government had earlier imposed a 100% duty on import of sugar, and also mandated that mills compulsorily export sugar.
However, mills have been unable to export sugar due to depressed global prices.