New Delhi: The country's sugar production fell by 29 percent to 57.39 lakh tonnes in the first three months of the 2013-14 season (October-September) due to delay in crushing, industry body ISMA said Thursday.
But the sugar output is slowly catching up the last year's trend. However, the pace of raw sugar output would improve if the Centre announces export incentives at the earliest, it said.
Sugar output was 80.32 lakh tonnes (LT) in the year-ago period.
"After a sluggish start, sugarcane crushing picked up pace by the end of December, 2013. Lower production is due to late start of mills because of the cane pricing problem," Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said in a statement.
It said 476 mills were crushing till December 2013, as compared with 499 mills in the year-ago.
Maharashtra, the country's largest sugar producing state, has produced 22.14 LT of sugar, down from 29.07 LT in the same period last year. 154 mills were operating as against 161 till December 2013 in the state.
Uttar Pradesh -- the country's second biggest biggest sugar producing state -- produced 11.3 LT, down by about 42 percent from the last year's period. In UP, 119 mills were operating as against 122 mills in the year-ago.
Sugar recovery in Maharashtra was 10.19 per cent, while it stood at 8.75 percent in Uttar Pradesh.
ISMA said that extended rains in UP have adversely impacted sugarcane yields in central and eastern parts of the state. However, recovery could be better in these zones due to cultivation of better crop varieties this year.
Sugar production in Karnataka remained lower at 12 LT in the first three months of 2013-14 season, as against 16 LT in the year-ago period. Here too, the cane pricing problem is affecting smooth crushing, ISMA said.
Andhra Pradesh produced 2.52 LT of sugar, down by 18 per cent from the year-ago period, while Tamil Nadu 58 percent less sugar at 1.5 LT of sugar in the review period, it added.
As far as raw sugar is concerned, ISMA said that mills have produced 1.95 LT till November of 2013, much higher than 81,000 tonnes of raw sugar produced in the entire 2012-13 season.
"It clearly shows that mills are eager to produce more and more of raw sugar for exports. However, the pace of raw sugar production will improve if the government quickly announces the incentives it intends to give for raw sugar production," the industry body observed.
The timing of the announcement is important because only about 90 days of peak crushing season remains, which can be utilised by the mills, it added.
ISMA has pegged the country's sugar production at 250 LT this year, much higher than the government's estimate of 241 LT.