Extra 1 mln tons sugar exports possible if domestic output meets estimate: Govt official.

India, the world’s second largest sugar producing nation after Brazil, can export an additional 1 million tonnes of the sweetener if the domestic output reaches an estimated 33.6 million tonnes this year, a senior food ministry official said on Monday. The government will take a call next month on allowing more quantities of sugar exports, after assessing domestic production, he said.

Sugar availability is comfortable in the country and as a result wholesale and retail prices of the sweetener are on a decline in the last one month.

The food ministry has allowed 6 million tonnes of sugar exports for the current 2022-23 marketing year (October-September).

India exported a record 11 million tonnes of sugar in the previous year.

‘More exports are possible and we have a cushion for exports of additional one million tonnes, suppose the overall production reaches the estimated 33.6 million tonnes this year,’ the official said.

Sugar production has already reached 24.7 million tonnes till February of the ongoing 2022-23 marketing year, while mills have despatched 4.3 million tonnes for exports so far this year, he said.

The crushing operation will come to an end by the next month and the government will review exports after assessing the final production figures, he added.

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According to the food ministry, the country’s sugar production has been estimated lower at 33.6 million tonnes for the 2022-23 marketing year, due to fall in production in the top three producing states.

Sugar production in Maharashtra, the country’s leading sugar producing state, is estimated to be lower at 12 million tonnes in the 2022-23 marketing year, as against 13.7 million tonnes in the previous year.

Production in Uttar Pradesh is also likely to decline marginally to 10 million tonnes, as against 10.2 million tonnes, while that of in Karnataka it is estimated to drop to 5.5 million tonnes, as against 6.2 million tonnes during the comparable period, as per the official data.

About 5 million tonnes of sugar will be diverted for ethanol production this year, much higher than 3.6 million tonnes in the previous year.

Despite an estimate of lower sugar production, the official said India’s total availability of sugar would be 40.1 million tonnes in 2022-23, which includes a carry-over stock of 7 million tonnes.

Initially, carry-over stock was projected to be 6.1 million tonnes but it has risen to 7 million tonnes after actual verification of stock by state governments, he added.

The official asserted that there is no supply concern and both wholesale and retail prices are on a decline in the last one month.

Wholesale price of sugar was ruling at Rs 3,841 per quintal on March 3, as against Rs 3,860 per quintal a month ago. Retail price of sugar too was down marginally at Rs 41.61 per kg, as against 41.8 per kg during the comparable period, the official added.

On cane arrears, the official said the current year has been one of best years as mills have cleared maximum dues.

Out of Rs 1,18,271 crore dues payable during 2021-22 marketing year, the pending arrear is only Rs 432 crore.

Similarly in the ongoing 2022-23 marketing year, mills have a clear 77 per cent of Rs 69,381 crore dues payable to the growers so far. Pending dues is about Rs 15,842 crore which will be paid soon, the official added.

This article has been republished from The Economic Times