Sugar mills have called for allo- wing import of raw sugar during the upcoming crushing season to help mills in states where adverse weather conditions are expected to hit sugarca ne production.

“India could import a certain quanti ty of raw sugar to supplement cane crushing in the areas where climatic impact is likely to reduce crushable su- garcane,” said industry body National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Fac. tories (NFCSF) said in a press release on Thursday

There are concerns about production of sugarcane in Maharashtra and Karnataka, which is likely to affect availability of sugar for consumption and for ethanol production for blending with petrol in these states, it said.

India had last imported raw sugar in 2017, after which the country has been an exporter. In 2021-22, India was the se- cond largest exporter of raw sugar in the world.

Sugarcane crushing for the 2023-24 (October-September) season will be- gin next month.

NFCSF pointed out that crushing ca- pacity has increased in MaharashtraKarnataka and Gujarat in recent years and a likely shortage of sugarcane will prevent sugar factories from opera- ting at full capacity, impacting their economies of scale.

“Raw sugar, if used along with sugar cane for crushing, will not only enable mills to attain economies of scale of operation, but will help increase net sugar production,” it said.

At the same time, the industry body has brushed aside as “rumours” talks of a likely shortage of sugar production in 2023-24, saying most cane-gro- wing states have received good rains.

“The situation is contrary” it said. “While the El Nino has impacted the monsoon in some parts of Maharash- tra, all other cane growing states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Uttarakhand, etc. have received above normal rains, which has defini- tely helped the growth stage of standing cane to gain weight and sucrose content,” NFCSF said.

Sugar prices in India have been gradually moving upwards since June as the monsoon’s performance was not optimal.

India is now also dependent upon su- garcane production for its energy se- curity as 11% of petrol sold in the co- untry has been replaced with ethanol as of June 2023.

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