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SUGAR

ISMA revises current season’s sugar production estimates to 261 lakh ton
Saturday, 20 January, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), which procured the satellite images of cane area harvested and the remaining cane area unharvested in the fields across the country in the second week of January 2018, has revised its sugar production estimates in the current season to about 261 lakh ton, against its first advance estimates of 251 lakh ton.

This has been done on the basis of the images of balance area, trend of yields and sugar recoveries achieved till now, as also the expected yield/sugar recovery in the balance period of the sugar season.

As compared to the sugar off-take from sugar mills during season 2016-17 of about 246 lakh ton, it was estimated that the sugar consumption in the current year would be about 250 lakh ton in the current season. Therefore, as per the revised estimates of 261 lakh ton of sugar production, India can export some of the additional stocks in the current season itself.

Considering the additional sugar availability expected in the current season of about 10-11 lakh ton over the domestic requirement, senior members of ISMA met the officials in the food ministry, government of India.

Detailed submissions were made before the government about the need to dispose off some of the additional stocks in the current season itself.

It was submitted by ISMA that the main reason for the fall in sugar prices in the recent past was the expected sugar production during the current season, which is now looking to be more than the domestic requirement, because of which several sugar mills were under pressure to sell their sugar for revenue generation to pay to the cane farmers.

It was also noted that several sugar mills were unable to pay cane price to the farmers because of the recent fall in sugar prices which have started falling below the cost of production. Therefore, there were concerns about the sugarcane farmers getting affected due to their cane price arrears accumulating.

It was agreed by the government that there was need to take action to control the falling prices, for which some of the stocks could be exported as quickly as possible.

The government appreciated the problems of the sugar sector and agreed that all steps required to be taken to ensure that the additional sugar stocks get exported quickly, will be taken soon.

This could include similar steps as taken by the government in the past like mandatory sugar exports by each sugar mill in the country. ISMA requested that a quick decision be taken in the matter.

Regarding a little bit of fear that some sugar might get imported from Pakistan because of the subsidies offered by its government, ISMA requested that the import duty be increased to 100 per cent, which is the current rate as per the Indian Tariff Act.  The government also appreciated that the country did not need any imports.  

The government also advised the sugar mills that they should not be in a hurry to sell their sugar below their costs, which, in turn, will adversely impact the cane price payments of farmers.

They advised that there was a need for sugar mills to at least try and cover their costs of production because that will determine the timely cane price payments of the farmers.

Efforts are already being made by the industry, duly supported by the Government, to explore possibilities of getting preferential import duty for Indian sugar by the two important neighbouring countries, namely, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, who are members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), and can offer such preferential treatment for Indian sugar.

If this happens early, it will ensure that all the extra stocks from India can get disposed off very fast.
 
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