Sugar mills in the country produced 232.74 lakh tonnes (lt) of sugar till March 31, nearly 22 per cent lower than the 296.82 lt produced in the corresponding period of the previous year, said a statement issued by the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) on Wednesday.
Even though the spread of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown initially disrupted the movement of sugar due to poor availability of trucks, interventions by the Food Ministry and notifications by the Home Ministry have helped the mills resume dispatches over the past four-five days, ISMA said. The sugar industry body said there is enough sugar stock in the country and there will not be any scarcity.
With regard to inputs for operating sugar mills, the major worry was unavailability of lime because of the closing down of lime quarries in Rajasthan following the lockdown. However, the Rajasthan government has said lime quarries and kilns can resume operations, ISMA said.
Mills in Uttar Pradesh, the No 1 sugar producing State, produced 97.2 lt of sugar till March 31, a little more than 95.67 lt in the previous-year period. Out of 119 sugar mills, only six have stopped crushing operations so far. In Maharashtra, on the other hand, sugar production was 58.70 lt compared to 105.16 lt in the previous-year period. Out of 118 mills that operated this year, 28 mills are still crushing sugarcane.
Mills in Karnataka produced 33.5 lt sugar till March 31, about 10 lt lower than in the previous year period. Sugar production from States including Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Bihar was at 43.34 lt.
ISMA said sugar companies are facing some problems in ethanol supply. This is mainly because of lower offtake of petrol, due to which some of the depots of the oil marketing companies (OMCs) are unable to take further supplies of ethanol due to lack of storage space.
Since individual contracts have been entered into between sugar companies and OMCs for ethanol supplies, which are depot-specific across the country, ISMA requested OMCs to reallocate the quantities to other depots where they have tankage/storage space.