2023-24 Sugar production faces downturn amid monsoon shortfall

The sugar industry anticipates a decline in overall sugar production for the 2023-24 season due to insufficient monsoon rainfall, resulting in reduced sugarcane plantations. The All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA) Chairman, Praful Vithalani, stated that the diminished sugar production is attributed to this year’s lower rainfall, impacting sugarcane cultivation. Although concerns arise, Vithalani reassures that the difference may not be substantial compared to the previous year, given that the crushing season is ongoing. AISTA estimates sugar production to reach 316 lakh tonnes this year, slightly lower than the 2022-23 figure of 329 lakh tonnes. As of February 15 in the current season, sugar production has reached 223.68 lakh tons, a decrease from the 229.37 lakh tons produced during the corresponding period last year, as reported by the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA). 

Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu have recorded lower sugar production till February 15, with concerns about early closures for some mills. Maharashtra, the leading sugar-producing state, reported a reduction in production from 8.59 million tonnes to 7.94 million tonnes. Similarly, Karnataka’s production decreased from 4.6 million tonnes to 4.32 million tonnes during this period. With challenges posed by lower rainfall, the industry continues to closely monitor the ongoing sugar crushing season, which typically spans from November 15 to March 30, involving 505 operating mills this year compared to 502 mills last year. Vithalani anticipates early closures for some mills in Karnataka by February end and Maharashtra by April 10.