India is gearing up for a notable increase in sugar production in the crushing year 2023-24, with a significant boost in yields reported by key sugarcane-producing states, especially Uttar Pradesh. Millers in Maharashtra and Karnataka have witnessed heightened per-hectare yields, prompting a revision of production figures by 10 to 15 percent. The national sugar production estimate is poised to reach an impressive 305 lakh tonnes, surpassing the initial projection of 291.50 lakh tonnes at the season’s commencement.
The surge in production is particularly pronounced in the Marathwada, Ahmednagar, and Solapur regions of Maharashtra, as well as the northern belt of Karnataka. Bhairavnath B Thombare, CMD of Natural Sugar and Allied Industries, emphasized a substantial 15 percent increase in per-hectare yields, with the unseasonal rains proving advantageous.
Of notable significance is Uttar Pradesh’s contribution, as the state’s 10 percent increase in production, reaching 110 lakh tonnes, plays a crucial role in elevating the country’s total estimate. The collaborative efforts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh are effectively dispelling concerns of potential sugar scarcity.
With a surplus of 75 lakh tonnes of sugar currently available (domestic consumption at 280 lakh tonnes and a carryover stock of 50 lakh tonnes), the industry is rallying for the reinstatement of the original ethanol blending program.
In December, the central government initially imposed restrictions on ethanol production from sugar juice or syrup, limiting mills to produce ethanol solely from B heavy or C molasses. However, on December 15, the ban was lifted, allowing the diversion of 17 lakh tonnes of sugar for ethanol production. Industry insiders are optimistic about the possibility of a second tranche announcement, allowing further diversion to 25 lakh tonnes.
Bhairavnath B Thombare highlighted the substantial investments made by mills in Maharashtra, totaling Rs 17,000 crore in ethanol production. Plans are underway to meet with Union Minister Piyush Goyal and his secretary to advocate for the reinstatement of the original ethanol diversion program, benefiting both mills and farmers.