Karnataka to see 20% reduction in sugarcane crop due to less monsoon rains: Vijendra Singh, SISMA (Karnataka) President

Karnataka, the third major sugar producing state in the country has reported less rainfall in the sugarcane growing belt of the state, which is expected to impact overall sugar production in the state in the current season.

In an exclusive interview with ChiniMandi, South Indian Sugar Mills Association- Karnataka (SISMA) President and Executive Director of Shree Renuka Sugars, Shri Vijendra Singh feels that there could be a 20% reduction in sugarcane crop in the 2023-24 sugar season which will result in less sugar production and also adversely impact ethanol supply from the State.

He urged OMCs to announce ethanol prices for next year at the earliest so that the sugar industry can efficiently plan ethanol production. He also mentioned that the sugar industry in Karnataka will be affected by the imposition of section 11 which will not allow the sugar mills to sell power in the open market.

Q. When will the sugar season start in Karnataka?

A: The sugar season in Karnataka will start in a couple of days. By 1st November all mills in Karnataka will be operational.

Q. What is your expectation for sugarcane production in Karnataka?

A: As you are aware that this year there was less rainfall in sugarcane growing areas in the State, as a result of which the growth of cane crops was stunted, and it may affect the yields. There was some rainfall in later periods of monsoon, but it looks to me that the crop will reduce by about 20% in Karnataka. Some areas of Bijapur and Gulbarga seem to be badly affected due to less rainfall. Although South Karnataka and Belgaum regions are better.

Q. What is your estimate of sugar production in Karnataka in the current season?

A: As I have said earlier, the sugarcane crop will reduce by about 20%. We can expect about 4.5 Million MT of sugar in Karnataka in the current season.

Q. How much sugar was diverted last year for ethanol production?

A: About 0.9 Million MT of sugar was diverted for the production of ethanol last year. As on 27th August 2023, Karnataka has supplied 30.53 Crore litres of ethanol in ESY 2022-23.

Q. How much sugar will be diverted for ethanol? What is your outlook regarding ethanol production in Karnataka?

A: The Government is yet to announce ethanol prices, so it is difficult for sugar companies to decide on the production mix. It is desirable that the rates should be declared immediately. However, it looks that sugar diversion will reduce from 0.9 Million MT to approximately 0.6 Million MT in the State due to non-declaration of ethanol prices. Also on account of a shorter season and higher sugar prices, the ethanol production in Karnataka may be affected accordingly.

Q. Do you foresee any other challenges for the upcoming sugar season in Karnataka?

A: We need to protect the ratoon crop and also new cane plantations should start. The major constraint is the supply of electricity to the agriculture sector, which is very erratic these days. The government of Karnataka is making efforts to improve the same. We have to watch the situation of the power supply in the state.

The sugar industry in Karnataka is affected by the imposition of Section-11 which prohibits the power producers from selling power in open markets and they need to supply power to ESCOMs at pre-determined rates. This will adversely impact the economics of the sugar industry, which is already stressed due to the shorter season this year. The policymakers must relook into their decision and allow the sugar industry to sell the power at market prices, to mitigate the hardships of the industry which is already under stress due to cane shortage.


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