India which is diabetes capital of the world with around 5 crore patients of type-2 diabetes is slowly but surely reducing its sugar consumption and becoming more health conscious.
The statistics from National Federation of Sugar Factories Ltd. (NFSFL) shows that, there has been drop of 2 kg in sugar consumption per person per year. In 2014-15, India’s sugar consumption was 20.5 kg per person, but it has dropped to 18.5 kg per person in financial year 2017-18.
In financial year 2017-18 India’s total sugar production was 32 million tonnes and consumption were around 25 million tonnes.
Apart from increased production of sugar in 2017-18, one of the major reason why substantial stock remained unsold is that, Indians are changing their eating habits, said sugar sector analyst.
However, sugarcane continues to be politically sensitive crop in India. The two states with highest Lok Sabha seats that is Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are the largest producers of sugarcane and sugar in India. Together these two states elect 128 MPs of Lok Sabha out of total 543.
And that’s why to overcome the problem of glut in sugar industry, central government last month announced Rs.5500 crore package for the industry.
In Maharashtra around 30 lakh farmers are engaged in sugarcane cultivation and in last Congress-NCP government out of total 30 cabinet ministers 11 ministers controlled one or more sugar cooperative factories or private factories in their respective districts.
Though sugar lobby is not that powerful in present BJP-Sena government out of 22 cabinet ministers 5 relate to sugar factories.
Sugarcane is a politically sensitive crop in the state, which accounts for nearly one-third of the country’s sugar production and has over 30 lakh farmers engaged in sugarcane farming. The 11 out of 30 cabinet ministers in the last Congress-NCP government controlled one or more sugar cooperatives in their districts. Several of them also owned sugar factories of their own. While sugar cooperatives might not be as influential in the current Sena-BJP government, five of 22 cabinet ministers control cooperatives, or own sugar factories.
Sanjay Khatal, Managing Director of Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation Ltd. said, “In absolute terms there is no decline in consumption, but it is not increasing in proportion with increase in population.
However, trend in India is not exceptional, this is what world over is happening. People have become more health conscious and trying to control their sugar consumption.”
However, government is encouraging production of ethanol directly from sugarcane, which will bring down India’s dependence on imported fuel and will give more remunerative prices to Indian farmers, he added.