Maharashtra’s sugar output is expected to decline 14 per cent in the 2023-24 crop year, industry and government officials said on Wednesday. This fall is credited to decreased cane fields as a result of the driest August the country has seen in more than a century, officials stated.
Notably, Maharashtra leads the sugar production in the country. According to a Reuters report, the state’s output is expected to be on a downward slope and this fall in output could impact food inflation. These developments might lead to the central government not supporting sugar exports, the report said.
This is expected to generate a snowball effect and impact global sugar prices, which are already touching near their highest levels in more than a decade. The report added that higher domestic sugar prices will lead to better margins for producers in the country, enabling them to pay the farmers in time.
B B Thombare, the president of the West Indian Sugar Mills Association, noted, “The western state of Maharashtra could produce 9 million metric tons in the 2023/24 season (which begins on Oct. 1), down from 10.5 million tons in 2022/23.” The state contributes to more than a third of India’s sugar output.
The association president added that the sugar cane crop has not been able to grow well due to a deficit in rainfall during the critical growth phase of the crop. “In almost all districts, the crop’s growth is stunted,” he said.
Maharashtra this year witnessed a deficit in rainfall of 59 per cent, in comparison to normal levels during the month of August. The state’s sugar commissioner Chandrakant Pulkundwar noted that he has been informed by sugar mills’ representatives that this year’s sugar cane output is estimated to be lower on account of a long dry spell and higher temperatures. The commissioner added that now the crop desperately needs ample rainfall in September to limit the damage caused by the below-average Monsoon so far.
The country’s weather department expects India to receive an average level of rainfall in September. The report cited a Mumbai-based dealer from a global trading house and stated that India’s sugar exports are heavily dependent on Maharashtra’s sugar output, as such the guidance for overseas shipments in the coming season remains bleak.
Notably, India exported a record 11.2 million tonnes of sugar in 2021-22 and Maharashtra’s sugar production during the period stood at a record 13.7 million tonnes. The state’s production dipped to 10.5 million tonnes in the 2022-23 season and as such, India reduced it’s exports to 6.1 million tonnes.