Impact of drought in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka
Even as the Centre prepares to de-control the sugar industry and buy its levy sugar requirement from the open market, it is expected that sugar output for the 2012-13 season will be 245 lakh tonnes compared to 263 lakh tonnes produced last year.
The decline is attributed to drought in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
“This year, we expect sugar output to be around 24.5 million tonnes. Next year, it will be 24 million tonnes. The setback will be in Maharashtra and north Karnataka,’’ Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told journalists on Thursday.
He said sugarcane cultivation for the next season had not yet commenced in Maharashtra, the country’s largest sugar producing State, owing to the second consecutive year of deficient rains. “The situation is so severe that the State Government has decided to save water for drinking purpose alone and not supply for crops,’’ he said.
The Minister said the sugar output in Maharashtra would be hit as substantial sugarcane crop is being diverted as fodder. The situation was, however, slightly better in Uttar Pradesh which is the second largest sugar producing state.
Earlier, Minister of State for Food K. V. Thomas had said that sugar production this year was expected to be around 250 lakh tonnes this year.
Till the end of last month, sugar mills had produced 188 lakh tonnes and by the end of the season the Indian Sugar Mills Association expects an output of 243 lakh tonnes for the 2012-13 crushing season. Mills have already starting slowing down crushing operations.