After hitting an all-time high in 2018-19, sugar output in Maharashtra is likely to decline by 15 - 20 per cent in the crushing season 2019-20 (October - September) due to lower acreage in the current planting season.
Sugar output in Maharashtra, the largest sweetener producing state in India, was reported at 10.07 million tonnes for the season 2018-19 (October – September), a record high in the state. However, the deficient rainfall in 2018 resulted in a severe drought in the state. Apart from affecting human beings in the state, the drought has also led to a scarcity of fodder and water for animals.
Farmers in the state, therefore, have started uprooting sugarcane in the severely drought affected regions of Maharashtra to feed their animals. This is expected to hit sugarcane growth. Apart from this, sugarcane has also been damaged due to heat waves in the state. Moreover, farmers have decided to switch to other crops like soybean and pulses amongst others to boost their farm income. All these factors are set to bring down the overall cane sowing area by 10-15 per cent in the next sugar season (SS) ie October 2019 to September 2020.
“Maharashtra hit a record sugar production surpassing the benchmark 10 million tonnes in the crushing season 2018-19. But, drought and crop diversion are set to reduce its overall cane sowing this year. We feel, total sugar output may remain 15 – 20 per cent lower at 8-8.5 million tonnes in sowing season (SS) 2019-20,” said Prakash Naiknavare, managing director, National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories.
Meanwhile, the record sugar output has led to storage problems this year. With the demand for sugar lower than its availability, mills are scouting for warehousing space ahead of the monsoon season.
Apex industry body Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) has estimated a sugar output of 33 million tonnes this year.
“The field reports from Maharashtra suggest that sugarcane planting in most of the regions in Maharashtra for harvesting in next 2019-20 season is significantly lower than the sugarcane harvested in the current season. With lesser number of sugar mills working as of now, sugar production in the balance part of the current season will be much less than what was produced from May 1, 2018 to September 30, 2018 last year,” said Abinash Verma, Director General, ISMA in a recent release.
According to Naiknavare, lower output in Maharashtra and other drought-hit states may restrict India’s overall sugar output at 30 million tonnes for 2019-20, around 9 per cent lower than the output reported for 2018-19.