According to the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), 457 sugar mills started crushing operations during 2019-20 SS. This was 70 less than the 527 mills, which operated last year. As on 31st March 2020, 271 mills had stopped crushing this year, and only 186 sugar mills in the country were crushing on that date, most of them being in North India. As compared to that, last year as on 31st March 2019, 240 mills were operating then.
232.74 lakh tonnes of sugar have been produced till 31st March 2020 as against 296.82 lakh tonnes produced last year by 31st March 2019, about 64.08 lakh tonnes less.
Spread of Covid–19 and the lockdown had initially disrupted some movement of sugar due to lack of availability of trucks, but thanks to the interventions of Ministry of Food and Notifications from Home Ministry, sugar dispatches have picked up in the last 4-5 days. ISMA has assured the Government that there is enough sugar with the sugar mills, and therefore, there will not be any problem of availability of this essential food item for the consumers.
Wherever there is any availability of sugarcane, the sugar mills are making all efforts to ensure that the farmers do not face any problem, and sugar mills in those areas are operating.
During the initial couple of days of the lockdown, there was concern about smooth availability of important inputs like lime, sulphur, bags, phosphoric acid etc. Availability of these inputs has since been assured by the Government and the suppliers therein and normal supplies have been restored.
However, the lime quarries/kilns were closed by the Government of Rajasthan. The matter was taken up by ISMA with the Rajasthan Government. Thanks to Food Ministry’s and UP Government’s intervention, the Government of Rajasthan has allowed lime quarries/kilns to operate during this lock down period, and there is smooth availability of all inputs now.
In U.P., 119 sugar mills which were in operation, have produced 97.20 lakh tonnes of sugar till 31st March 2020. Out of 119 sugar mills, 6 sugar mills have stopped crushing operations. Against this, 114 were in operation last year on the same date and the sugar production was 95.67 lakh tonnes last year, upto 31st March 2019.
In Maharashtra, sugar production till 31st March 2020 was 58.70 lakh tonnes, compared with 105.16 lakh tonnes produced last year same period. In the current 2019-20 SS, 118 mills have already closed their crushing operations in the State and only 28 sugar mills are operating. On the corresponding date in last season 33 mills were in operation.
In case of Karnataka, till 31st March, 2020, 63 sugar mills have produced 33.50 lakh tonnes of sugar. Out of the 63 sugar mills, 60 mills have already closed their operations in the State and only 3 mills are in operation. During the corresponding period last year, 67 sugar mills had produced 43.18 lakh tonnes sugar. Of the 67 sugar mills, 65 had ended their operations and 2 mills were in operation as on 31st March 2019, last year.
In case of Tamil Nadu, out of 24 sugar mills which operated this season, 20 sugar mills have ended their crushing, though some might operate in the special season later in the year. Till 31st March 2020, sugar production in the State was 4.5 lakh tonnes, compared with 6.33 lakh tonnes produced by 32 sugar mills on the corresponding date last year.
Gujarat has produced 8.50 lakh tonnes of sugar till 31st March 2020 with 7 sugar mills in operation. Last year, 10.64 lakh tonnes of sugar had been produced with 6 mills in operation on the same date.
In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, 18 sugar mills have produced about 4.10 lakh tonnes as on 31st March 2020, of which 17 mills have stopped crushing. Last year, 7.25 lakh tonnes was produced on the corresponding date and 7 mills were in operation as on 31st March 2019.
The remaining States as Bihar, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Odisha have collectively produced 26.24 till 31st March, 2020.
Sugar companies were facing some problems in smooth supplies of ethanol. This is mainly because of lower offtake of petrol, because of which some of the depots of the OMCs are unable to take further supplies due to lack of storage space therein. Since individual contracts have been entered into between sugar companies and OMCs for ethanol supplies, which are depot wise across the country, the OMCs have been requested to reallocate the quantities to other depots where they have tankage/storage space.
The OMCs have responded very positively and very quickly to identify the depots where they are facing problems of storage capacities and depots where they can take further ethanol supplies, beyond the contracts. It is a matter of time by when the OMCs and the sugar companies would have mutually agreed to reallocate the ethanol quantities to other and newer depots. One expects that all the ethanol contracted for, will get fully supplied in the year, thanks to the full cooperation of the OMCs to relocate some of the supplies to other depots.