India. Sugar output in Maharashtra falls to lowest in a decade
Maharashtra’s sugar output has fallen more than half in 2016-17 from a year ago to 41.86 lakh tonnes, the lowest in a decade, in line with lower availability of sugarcane due to two consecutive drought years.
About 150 sugar mills crushed 372 lakh tonnes of sugarcane during the year, less than half the 743 lakh tonnes crushed in the previous year. As a result, sugar production too declined from 84.15 lakh tonnes last year.
The number of sugar mills in operation came down from 177 last year, as 27 mills could not operate for want of sugarcane.
“The last operating sugar mill in Maharashtra closed its operations on April 9, bringing to an end the 2016-17 sugarcane crushing season,” said an official of the state’s sugar commissionerate, requesting not to be identified.
The sugar mills from Marathwada region had closed almost two months ago owing to non-availability of sugarcane, while those from the water-rich southern Maharashtra continued till April.
The Indian Sugar Mills Association had in March revised its estimate of sugar production down to 203 lakh tonnes from its earlier estimate of 213 lakh tonnes for October 2016-September 2017 season.
Due to the fall in sugar production in Maharashtra and Karnataka, the central government has allowed duty-free import of 5 lakh tonnes of raw sugar. However, since the crushing season is over now, most of the sugar mills will not be able to process the imported raw sugar.