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Putting speculations to rest, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey today ruled out a hike in the minimum selling price of sugar from the current level of 31 per kg. As per Pandey, the domestic prices of sugar are higher and even hoped that export could touch 50-60 lakh tonnes in the current marketing year starting October.

Pandey, while addressing the 87th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), said the country has seen a significant improvement in the overall blending of ethanol with petrol. It rose to 8.1 per cent in FY21, surpassing the target of 8.5 per cent. This year, Pandey said, it could rise further to 10 per cent.

Pandey also asked sugar mills to boost storage capacity for ethanol, saying they can supply it to the oil marketing companies regularly.

"We have seen that the direct export support in last about five-six years is roughly about 13,000 crore directly to the industry. And matter did not end there. Buffer stock support...was also being given by the government. When the prices were crashing, then the minimum selling price (MSP) concept was introduced to arrest the falling prices. That was also a big support to the industry at that time," he said, news agency PTI reported.

India's sugar exports rose to 70 lakh tonnes in 2020-21 marketing year (October-September), a major improvement from 6.3 lakh tonnes exported in 2017-18. In FY21, around 20 lakh tonnes of sugar was used for ethanol production. 

In FY22 so far, around 35 lakh tonnes of sugar has already been contracted for exports, said Pandey, adding that it could touch 50-60 lakh tonnes this year. India could use a total of 35 lakh tonnes for ethanol production this year.

By 2025, Pandey said the target should be to divert roughly about 60 lakh tonnes of sugar, which generally is surplus in the Indian context. He said domestic sugar demand continues to stagnate around 260 lakh tonnes.

As per the ISMA, India's sugar production may remain flat at 31 million tonnes in the FY22 marketing year. The total availability may touch 39.5 million tonnes, including an opening stock of 8.5 million tonnes.

With PTI inputs

Also read: India could export 6 mn tonnes sugar despite WTO ruling: Trade officials

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