Amid droughts, floods and incessant rains in two leading sugar growing states, Maharashtra and Karnataka, India’s sugar production is unlikely to fall nearly 19 percent in the sugar season 2019-20 (October to September).
According the first advance estimates, released by Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) today, based on the satellite images of sugarcane acreage across the country in October 2019, the country is estimated to produce 268.5 lakh tonnes of sugar in 2019-2020 SS as compared to 331.61 lakh tonnes produced last year.
ISMA has now estimated the total cane acreage at 48.31 lakh hectares, which is about 12 percent less than 2018-19 SS on pan India basis of 55.02 lakh hectare.
As per the October 2019 satellite imagery, amid not having normal rainfall, sugar production during the current 2019-20 SS is expected to be lower than what was expected about 4 months ago. The crop in the two main sugarcane growing states, namely, Maharashtra and Karnataka which contribute around 35-40 percent of country’s sugar, have been adversely impacted due to various reasons.
According to ISMA, the sugarcane acreage in Uttar Pradesh, the leading sugarcane and sugar producing state in the country is seen to be slightly lower, as compared to 2018-19 SS. Taking into account the crop condition, weather conditions and area under the high yielding cane varieties in the state, an improvement in yield per hectare is expected. Hence, sugar production in UP in 2019-20 SS is estimated to be around 120 lakh tonnes, which is more or less at the same level of 118.21 lakh tonnes produced in 2018-19 SS.
As per the preliminary estimates in July 2019, cane area of Maharashtra was seen lower by about 30 percent for 2019-20 SS, on account of drought last year in Marathwada and Solapur regions, the sugar mills association has said.
Whereas, floods affected important cane growing areas such as Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara and Pune in August – September 2019. Due to water logging in cane fields for long duration, some of the cane has been destroyed completely, while some areas have been partially affected in terms of yield and recovery. Hence, cane area for 2019-20 acreage has further dropped to 7.76 lakh hectare, against the 11.54 lakh hectare in 2018-19.
Similar to Maharashtra, there was poor rainfall in 2018 last year in the cane growing areas of Karnataka, reducing the acreage therein for 2019-20 SS. Further, incessant rains in first fortnight of August, 2019 also affected north Karnataka mainly in Belgaum and Bijapur districts.
As per ISMA report, thus, area under sugarcane in 2019-20 SS is expected to be about 3.99 lakh hectare in the state as against 5.02 lakh hectare in 2018-19 SS. Considering these factors, sugar production in 2019-20 SS is estimated to be around 32 lakh tonnes as against 44.30 lakh tonnes produced in 2018-19 SS.
There has not been any major changes in the other sugarcane growing states of the country. The rainfall therein has been more or less as expected. Hence, these states are expected to collectively produce about 54.5 lakh tonnes of sugar in 2019-20 SS, almost at the same level as in the previous season.
The sugarcane crushing for the season 2019-20 is soon starting in some areas. Therefore, a better picture would emerge once the crushing starts fully and actual trend of yields and sugar recoveries would become available.
As per the reports submitted by the sugar mills to the government, sugar sales during 2018-19 SS was 246 lakh tonnes. It has been seen that there are some sugar mills which sell more than the monthly sale quota given by the government to them, for various reasons including the pressure to pay cane prices to the farmers and also because huge working capital is blocked in the high sugar inventory. There are reports from the market that another 8-9 lakh tonnes of sugar would have got sold over and above what has been reported by them to the government. Therefore, the sugar sales by the sugar mills during 2018-19 season is estimated to be 255 lakh tonnes.
Considering the opening balance of 107 lakh tonnes as on October 1, 2018 and and exports of around 38 lakh tonnes and sugar sales of 255 lakh tonnes, the closing balance as on September 30, 2019 is estimated to be 145.81 lakh tonnes.