New Delhi: Sugar output fell by 50 percent to 24.24 lakh tonnes so far in the 2013-14 season due to the delay in the sugarcane crushing operations especially in Uttar Pradesh, industry body ISMA said.
The industry has pegged total sugar output at 250 lakh tonnes in the ongoing 2013-14 season (October-September), higher than the government estimate of 241 million tonnes.
"The country has produced 24.24 lakh tonnes of sugar till December 15, which is about 50 per cent less than last year," Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said in a release.
After a slow start, the 2013-14 sugarcane crushing season has been catching up fast. About 426 mills were crushing till December 15, as against 457 mills in the year-ago period, it said.
Sugar output in Maharashtra, the country's leading sugar producing state, fell by 35 percent to 1.2 million tonnes so far this season.
Mills in the state crushed about 1.28 million tonnes of sugarcane. About 150 mills were in operation till December 15, as against 170 mills in the year-ago period.
Sugar output in Uttar Pradesh, the country's second biggest sugar producing state, fell by 78 percent to 2.30 lakh tonnes so far this season. In the state, 110 mills are operating now against 116 mills a year ago.
In Karnataka, sugar production was down by 57 percent to 4.75 lakh tonnes till December 15 this season. 55 mills were in operation as against 56 in the year-ago period.
Sugar output showed a decline even in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The output in Andhra Pradesh fell by 44 per cent to 0.95 lakh tonnes, while it declined by 70 percent to 0.60 lakh tonnes in Tamil Nadu in the review period.
The crushing operations in most states, especially in Uttar Pradesh, could not start on time as cash-starved private mills decided to shut operations concerned over high cane price fixed by the state governments.
Mills began operations in Uttar Pradesh only after the state government announced slew of measures. Meanwhile, the Centre is also working on a bailout package for the beleaguered industry to ensure cane payment to growers.
ISMA also said the country has imported about 0.27 lakh tonnes of sugar during the October-November period of this season, while about 2.27 lakh tonnes have been exported.
India, the world's second biggest sugar producer after Brazil, consumes about 235 lakh tonnes of sweetener a year.
First Published: Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 19:48