Political and economic turmoil in neighbouring countries may adversely impact India’s sugar exports this season

The Secretary for Food and Public Distribution, Sudhanshu Pandey warned of challenges in sugar exports from India in the 2021-22 season even though 1.8 million tonnes had already been contracted at the start of the season itself.

Addressing the All India Sugar Traders Association (AISTA) on global sugar, he said that last year India was able to export 7.2 million tonnes of the sweetener to various destinations and almost 50% of this went to three countries — Indonesia, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

“These countries have different dynamics this year. Thailand’s production is likely to go up this time and so Thailand sugar will try to find its lost market in Indonesia. Indian sugar will have to compete for Indonesia market again. Instability in Afghanistan may impact our exports to the country and Sri Lanka has a huge foreign currency shortage. And therefore, a new arrangement will have to be thought of by the industry so that export market is also served,” he observed.

Pandey said that the country is planning to divert about 3.5 million tonne for ethanol production next year and by 2023, the target is that at least 6 million tonne of sugar should be diverted for ethanol production. But at the same time, we are also looking for new opportunities for export, he explained.

More than 50 million farmers and their families are dependent on the sugar sector and proper pricing policy needs to be encouraged for the sugar sector. The food secretary expressed hope that sugar production this year would be as per estimates and the average cane recovery goes up because farmers are using better varieties and techniques for planting cane. India’s total sugar production is estimated at 34 million tonnes of which around 3.5 million tonnes may be diverted for ethanol production, 6 million tonnes for exports. He also stated that the government shall not provide any assistance for exports this season and urged the industry to educate consumers to increase sugar consumption as well.

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