Amid sluggish sugarcane planting in drought-hit Maharashtra and Karnataka, leading sugar refiner Shree Renuka Sugars today said it expects 8-10 per cent fall in India’s overall sugar output at 22-22.5 million tonnes in the 2013-14 marketing year.
Sugar production in the ongoing 2012-13 marketing year (October-September) is pegged at 24.5 million tonnes. “Total sugar production is expected between 22 and 22.5 million tonnes in 2013-14 because sugarcane availability would be lower as area under the crop has come down drastically in Maharashtra and Karnataka,” Shree Renuka Sugars Executive Chairperson Vidya M Murkumbi said.
Major drop in sugar production would be in Maharashtra, the country’s largest sugar producer. There would be some fall in output in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as well, she said. As per government data, area sown to sugarcane has come down to 4.20 million hectare till last week, as against 4.68 million hectare in the same period last year. Till last week, farmers in Maharashtra had planted sugarcane in only 336,000 hectare, 13,000 hectare in Karnataka and 7,000 hectare in Tamil Nadu, the data showed.
Murkumbi, who is also co-founder of Shree Renuka Sugars, said: “Sugarcane planting is ‘drastically down’ by 15-20 per cent in Maharashtra. Similarly, planting is down by 25 per cent in Karnataka.”
Noting that sugarcane is a water-guzzling crop, she said, “Sugarcane needs eight months of canal. Water is available only in western Maharashtra, there is dryness in other parts of the state.”
The situation is equally bad in Bagalkot and Bijapur regions of Karnataka, she added. Asked if monsoon rains this year would boost crop prospects, Murkumbi said, “It would be less advantage for the crop even if monsoon is very good. Let us hope rains this year will improve sugarcane planting in the next year (2014-15).”
Renuka Sugars operates 11 mills globally, with a total crushing capacity of 20.7 million tonnes per annum(MTPA). The company operates seven sugar mills in India with a total crushing capacity of 7.1 MTPA.