The country's sugar production fell by 29% to 57.39 lakh tonne in the first three months of the 2013-14 season (October-September) because of delay in crushing, industry body ISMA said on Thursday.
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 tonne 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 added that 476 mills were crushing till December 2013, as compared with 499 mills a year ago.
Maharashtra, the country's largest sugar producing state, has produced 22.14 lakh tonne of sugar, down from 29.07 lakh tonne 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 lakh tonne, down by about 42% 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%, while it stood at 8.75% in UP.
The ISMA said that extended rains in UP had adversely impacted sugarcane yields in the central and eastern parts of the state.
However, recovery could be better in these zones because of cultivation of better crop varieties this year.
Sugar production in Karnataka remained lower at 12 lakh tonne in the first three months of 2013-14 season, as against 16 lakh tonne in the year-ago period. Here too, the cane pricing problem is affecting smooth crushing, ISMA said.
Andhra Pradesh produced 2.52 lakh tonne of sugar, down by 18% from the year-ago period, while Tamil Nadu 58% less sugar at 1.5 lakh tonne of sugar in the review period, it added.
As far as raw sugar is concerned, the ISMA said that mills have produced 1.95 lakh tonne till November of 2013, much higher than the 81,000 tonne 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.