India has emerged as the world’s largest producer of sugar with a record production of about 394 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of sweetener being produced during the sugar season 2021-22 (October-September). Out of this, 35 LMT sugar was diverted to ethanol production and 359 LMT sugar was produced by sugar mills, according to an official statement.
“In the sugar season (October-September) 2021-22, a record of more than 5,000 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) sugarcane was produced in the country, out of which about 3,574 LMT of sugarcane was crushed by sugar mills to produce about 394 LMT of sugar (sucrose). Out of this, 35 LMT sugar was diverted to ethanol production and 359 LMT sugar was produced by sugar mills. With this, India has emerged as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar as well as the world’s second-largest exporter of sugar," the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution said in a statement on Wednesday.
It added that the season has proven to be a watershed season for the Indian sugar sector. All records of sugarcane production, sugar production, sugar exports, cane procured, cane dues paid and ethanol production were made during the season.
“Another shining highlight of the season is the highest exports of about 109.8 LMT that, too, with no financial assistance which was being extended up to 2020-21. Supportive international prices and Indian government policy led to this feat of the Indian sugar industry. These exports earned foreign currency of about Rs 40,000 crore for the country," the ministry said.
The success story of sugar industry is the outcome of synchronous and collaborative efforts of central and state governments, farmers, sugar mills, ethanol distilleries with supportive overall ecosystem for business in the country, it said.
“Timely government interventions for the last five years have been crucial in building the sugar sector step by step from taking them out of financial distress in 2018-19 to the stage of self-sufficiency in 2021-22," the ministry added.
It said that during the sugar season 2021-22, sugar mills procured sugarcane worth more than 1.18 lakh crore and released the payment of more than 1.12 lakh crore with no financial assistance (subsidy) from the Government of India. “Thus, cane dues at the end of sugar season are less than Rs 6,000 crore indicating that 95 per cent of cane dues have already been cleared. It is also noteworthy that for SS 2020-21, more than 99.9 per cent cane dues are cleared."
In the past five years, the growth of ethanol as the biofuel sector has amply supported the sugar sector as the use of sugar to ethanol has led to better financial positions of sugar mills due to faster payments, reduced working capital requirements and less blockage of funds due to less surplus sugar with mills.
During 2021-22, a total revenue of about Rs 18,000 crore has been made by sugar mills/ distilleries from the sale of ethanol, which has also played its role in the early clearance of cane dues of farmers.
“Ethanol production capacity of molasses/sugar-based distilleries has increased to 605 crore litres per annum and the progress is still continuing to meet targets of 20 per cent blending by 2025 under Ethanol Blending with Petrol (EBP) Programme. In new season, the diversion of sugar to ethanol is expected to increase from 35 LMT to 50 LMT which would generate revenue for sugar mills amounting to about Rs 25,000 crore," the ministry said.