Above normal rainfall raises hope for revival in sugar output in Maharashtra


With major sugar-growing regions in state getting above normal monsoon, sugar output forecast to be revised, a government official has said.

 Above monsoon rainfall in Maharashtra so far this season has raised hopes for a revival in sugar output for the ensuing crushing season that begins in October.

Data compiled by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) showed Maharashtra, the second-largest sugar producing state in India, has received normal to excessive rainfalls across all meteorological sub-divisions or districts barring Dhule. Major sugar cane growing regions including Solapur, Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Pune etc have received almost above normal monsoon rainfall this season after two preceding years of drought.

Last two years of deficient rainfalls had prompted state agriculture department to forecast almost 45% of decline in sugar output this year at around 5.2 million tonnes for the upcoming season beginning October 2016 as against 9.2 million tonnes of sugar output reported in the previous year i.e. 2015-16.

“Sugarcane growing regions in Maharashtra have received normal to above normal monsoon rainfalls this season. Since the reservoirs in these regions have also received good storage level, we are expecting better yield this season than last year. Thus, sugar output might be revised upwards for the crushing season 2016-17 in Maharashtra,” said a senior sugar industry official.

Interestingly, IMD sources said that rainfall during the current season till date has been 3% of above long period average (LPA) in Maharashtra. Also, above normal rainfall activity is likely over many parts of India.

“July-September is the grand growth period for standing cane crop for which rainfall remains crucial. Excessive rainfalls during this period helps raise sucrose formation in the standing cane crop resulting into higher yield and sugar output,” said Abinash Verma, Director General, Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA).

Following two subsequent years of drought, industry body ISMA has forecast India’s sugar output at 23.26 million tonnes for the crushing season 2016-17, less than the current 2015-16 sugar season production of around 25.10 million tonnes.

Maharashtra's cane area has declined in 2016-17 sugar season, which is mainly due to drought like situation last year, poor rainfall and lesser water availability for irrigation. As against the cane area of 10.5 lakh hectares in 2015-16, the cane area is expected to come down to 7.80 lakh hectares in 2016-17. Sugar production is, therefore, estimated to be around 6.15 million tonnes in crushing season 2016-17, as against 8.41 million tonnes produced in the season 2015-16.

“Above normal rainfalls will certainly benefit standing sugarcane crops for the current season. But, the actual assessment is yet to be done on its impact on sugar output. There are some regions in which monsoon rainfalls have been average. In some part of state, yield will improve only 2-5%,” said Sanjeev Babar, Managing Director of Maharashtra State Federation of Sugar Factories.

With an estimated opening balance on October 01, 2016 of 7.1 million tonnes, and estimated production of 23.26 lakh tonnes, sugar availability during the 12 months of next season will be 30.36 million tonnes, enough to meet the domestic sugar consumption requirement of 26 million tonnes in season 2016-17.


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