‘Timely’ curb to ensure sugar supply during festive season: government
Citing the exceptional spike in sugar exports over the past six years, Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said, “It is an agricultural commodity and the availability is limited. The export has increased from 50,000 tons in 2016-17 to a projected 100 lakh tons in 2021-22 (sugar season). So please get this out of your mind that this is any type of brake… Since there is a global shortage; production in Brazil is not adequate and availability on the world market is less. Your domestic availability must also be ensured so that tomorrow, when there are no more sugar stocks in October and November, then what do you do? ” he said.
Officials said the government feared the figure could rise to 120 lakh tonnes on the current trend, leaving less than adequate stocks for the festival season, which is a lean season. He said the country must maintain at least 60 lakh tonnes of sugar stockpile on September 30 after exporting and sourcing the diversion of the sweetener for ethanol production.
Subodh Kumar Singh, co-secretary of the ministry, said meeting the national needs was the priority of the government and even industry players had agreed that the minimum stock of 60 lakh tonnes was needed to meet the requirement of two and a half months. He said it would be the lowest closing stock on record in recent years to meet the requirement during the lean period and festive season. Learning from the past crisis at the ports after the sudden introduction of tighter restrictions on wheat exports, the Ministry of Food has now prepared detailed operational guidelines for the export of sugar until May without any approval and with approval after June 1st. Singh said the government wanted the exports to be smooth and without any problems. He said the timely decision would help the factories and that there should be “no crisis like thing in the ports”.
The ministry also said India’s sugar production in 2021-22, at 355 lakh tonnes, is the highest in the world. He said exports and the diversion of sugar to ethanol have helped factories erase their cane rights from farmers. He said the payment for the purchase of sugarcane in this season is Rs 1.09 lakh crore, which is higher than the payment made to wheat farmers.