A recent study from rating agency Icra estimated the state's sugar production to stand at 9.7 million tonnes (mt) in the upcoming season this year. Meanwhile, data compiled by the All India Sugar Trade Association pegged the state's sugar output at 8.7 mt during 2016-17. This indicates mills in UP would produce 11.5 per cent more sugar in the coming season or nearly four times the state's own consumption.
"Domestic production for the full season during 2018 is likely to increase by 18-20 per cent to 24-24.5 mt, driven principally by a recovery in cane availability in Maharashtra and North Karnataka, besides support from monsoons. Sugar production in Uttar Pradesh is expected to increase to a new high of around 9.7 mt. However, production in South Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is likely to remain impacted by consecutive seasons of poor rain," stated the study compiled by Icra.
Farmers in UP adopted the high-yielding Co0238 cane a few years ago.
"Sowing under this high yielding variety of cane is significantly higher this year. So, despite a marginal increase in acreage, cane output is set to increase in the upcoming crushing season during 2017-18. So, sugar production in Uttar Pradesh would definitely set a new record in the coming year. At this point, however, it is difficult to assess a particular figure (of sugar output)," said Abinash Verma, Director General, Indian Sugar Mills Association.
Large mills in UP have decided to advance cane crushing by up to two weeks to check early-variety cane diversion to jaggery units (kolhus) and khandsari factories. In the absence of active sugar mills, farmers, especially in western UP, harvest early varieties of cane and supply them to jaggery and khandsari units.
"Now, farmers have realised that sugar mills' financial problems have eased, resulting in timely payment. With higher cane output estimated this year, mills might see an extended crushing season by one month. Hence, sugar output in Uttar Pradesh is heading for a new record," said B J Maheshwari, Director, Dwarikesh Sugar Industries.
Meanwhile, cane sowing reported a marginal increase to 2.33 million hectares this year, from 2.3 million hectares last year. With an increase in cane availability in UP, Maharashtra and Karnataka, the country's overall sugar output is estimated to rest at a little over 25 mt for the 2017-18 season, compared to 20.3 mt in the year-ago period.