ISMA has lowered India’s 2018-19 sugar production estimate by 11.26% 

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ISMA has lowered India’s 2018-19 sugar production estimate by 11.26%  Private sugarNSE -2.31 % industry body, Indian Sugar Mills Association has lowered India’s 2018-19 sugar production estimate by 11.26% at 315 lakh tonnes as compared to its earlier estimate of 355 lakh tonnes. 

Sugar production during the current 2018-19 SS is being reported to be lower than what was expected about 3-4 months back. The crop in the three main sugarcane growing States, namely, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka which contribute for around 80% of country’s sugar, have all been adversely impacted due to various reasons. 

The sugarcane area in U.P. for this season is seen to be slightly higher than the area under sugarcane in 2017-18 SS. The area under the high yielding variety Co0238 is also higher and, therefore, it was expected that sugarcane and sugar production in 2018-19 sugar season, as compared to last year, would be around 10-15 lac tons more. 

However, several areas in U.P. have had untimely rainfall in September 2018 which has adversely affected the growth of the sugarcane at this very important maturity period. Further, some areas have reported water-logging and in some parts of Western U.P., there has been sugarcane lodging also. 

Due to the above reasons, the sugarcane yields will be significantly lower than what was estimated about 3-4 months back and also lower than what was achieved in the previous sugar season. At the same time, the sugar recovery will also get adversely impacted. Accordingly, ISMA had estimated a sugar production of around 110-115 lac tons in 2018-19 SS, slightly higher to the actual sugar production of 107.23 lac tons last season. The yields which were around 108 tons/ha in the last year were expected to drop to around 90 tons/ha because of larger proportion of ratoon crop in the overall mix. 

These estimates were made considering a normal rainfall during July – September 2018 which has a big influence on the sugarcane yields and sugar recovery. However, during the last 2-3 months, the rainfall in most of the sugarcane areas in Maharashtra has been substantially lower than last year same period as well as below normal average of the last three years. 

In addition to the above, white grub has infested a significant area in the Districts of Ahmednagar, Solapur and Marathwada and to a lesser extent in Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara and Pune. In some small areas within the above Districts, the crop has been so seriously infested that either the farmers have uprooted them or the crop has not survived. Because of the impact of the lower rainfall and the white grub infestation, the sugarcane yield in Maharashtra is expected to be lower by almost 16-18% as compared to what was estimated 3-4 months back. 

Further, the sugar recovery is also expected to be not only lower to what was expected earlier, but even slightly lower over the last season. Therefore, despite substantial increase in acreage in Maharashtra, the sugar production now estimated from the State of Maharashtra will be much lower than last year. As compared to the production of 107.23 lac tons in 2017-18 SS, the sugar production expected from Maharashtra in the current 2018-19 SS is around 95 lac tons. 

The Northern part of Karnataka being contiguous to sugarcane grown in Southern part of Maharashtra, have also suffered due to lower rainfall as well as some infestation of white grub. The impact is, however, lower than Maharashtra. Even though the sugarcane acreage is about 20% more in Karnataka as compared to the last sugar season, the sugar production now estimated from Karnataka is expected to be only around 12-13% higher than last season. The sugar production estimation has accordingly been reduced by ISMA for Karnataka from 44.8 lac tons estimated in July 2018 to around 42 lac tons now. 

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By BOA Bureau