India’s sugar production soared to a record 29.98 million tonnes (mt) till April 15 in the current season on higher sugarcane output, resulting in arrears to farmers jumping to Rs 20,000 crore, according ISMA. The industry body noted that Sugar output of India, the world’s second largest producer, was 20.3 mt in 2016-17 against an annual domestic demand estimated at 25 mt. As many as 227 sugar mills were still crushing sugarcane. Sugar production in Maharashtra has almost reached its past record and mills produced 10.49 mt up to April 15, 2018. Mills in Uttar Pradesh produced a record 10.48 mt of sugar.
Crushing operations are almost over in Karnataka and only one sugar mill was operational as on April 15, 2018. The State has so far produced 3.63 mt of sugar. ISMA said sugar prices have been under severe pressure in the last 4-5 months and have fallen by Rs 9/kg across the country. The current ex-mill sugar prices are around Rs 8 lower than cost of production and sugar mills are incurring substantial losses. Inability to pay cane price because of highly depressed sugar prices has translated into huge cane price arrears. As on March 15, 2018, the cane arrears reported to the government was over Rs 18,000 crore across the country, ISMA said, noting that arrears could have crossed Rs 20,000 crore now.