India’s sugar production upto March 31 stood 23.7 million tons, down 1.1 million tons from last year due a shortened sugar season, the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said.
It said in a statement that 215 mills continued to crush sugarcane in the current season against 366 mills last year.
The trade body said that last season 3.5 million tons of sugar was produced after April 1, but that number will be lower in the current crushing season as fewer mills were operational.
The current year’s sugar production is almost equal to the domestic consumption, ISMA said, adding that the mills opened the current season with a significantly high opening stock of 9.1 million tons.
It said 1.15 million tons of sugar has been physically exported in the current season and as compared to contracts finalized till now, another 300,000 tons are expected to move in the next couple of months.
“Unless and until further export contracts take place, 91 lac tons of opening stocks will get drawn down to around 75 lac tons which is still a significantly high opening balance for October 1, 2016,” ISMA said.
There are field reports which suggest that due to less rainfall and lower water availability in reservoirs in some Districts in Maharashtra and North Karnataka, the acreage of sugarcane available for harvesting in 2016-17 SS will be lower. Therefore, there is a general expectation that sugar production during 2016-17 SS from the States of Maharashtra and Karnataka, due to lower acreage in some of their districts, will be lower than the current sugar season.
However, despite expected reduction in sugar production in the next sugar season, it is important to note that the opening stocks as on October 1 will be very comfortable at about 7.5 million tons and, therefore, there will be enough sugar to not only take care of the domestic requirement for the whole year, but will also leave a reasonable opening balance for 2017-18 sugar season.
ISMA said international as well as domestic agencies had reported that the impact of El Nino will be over in the month of May, and, therefore, it is expected that there will not be a dry season in India this time. The Indian Meterological Department’s (IMD’s) first report is expected in next 3 weeks, which will give a clearer picture, but a general expectation from the experts suggests that the monsoon this year will be normal, which may be good for sugarcane planting next year.