· As on 15th May, 2015, sugar mills have produced 278.48 lac tons of sugar for the current 2014-15 SS, 38.45 lac tons more than the sugar produced by the mills during the corresponding period in 2013-14 SS. Out of the 532 sugar mills which started operations for the current 2014-15 SS, only 45 are working as of now. In 2013-14 SS, 27 mills out of 530 operational sugar mills were running as on 15th May.
· Maharashtra sugar mills have produced 104.37 lac tons of sugar till 15th May, 2015, as against 77.20 lac tons produced during the corresponding date in 2013-14 SS. As on 15th May, 2015, 11 mills are operational as compared to only 2 in 2013-14 SS on the corresponding date.
· Sugar mills of Uttar Pradesh have produced 70.80 lac tons of sugar till 15th May, 2015, as compared to 65.08 lac tons produced by these mills in 2013-14 on the corresponding period. 5 sugar mills are still crushing sugarcane for the current 2014-15 SS, as against only 3 in 2013-14 as on 15th May 2014.
· 63 sugar mills of Karnataka which were in operation during 2014-15 SS have produced 48.78 lac tons of sugar till 15th May, 2015, as against 41.19 lac tons produced in 2013-14 SS on the corresponding period. About 7 sugar mills are still crushing sugarcane for the current season whereas in 2013-14 SS, all the mills had shut their operations as on 15th May, 2014.
· Sugar mills of Tamil Nadu have produced 9.80 lac tons of sugar till 15th May, 2015, as compared to 11.50 lac tons produced on the corresponding date of 2013-14 SS. 17 sugar mills are still in operation for the current 2014-15 SS as against 19 operated during the corresponding date of 2013-14 SS.
· Sugar mills of Gujarat have ended their crushing operations and produced 11.36 lac tons of sugar, as compared to 11.75 lac tons produced in 2013-14 SS on the corresponding date.
· All sugar mills of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have completed their crushing and produced 8.83 lac tons of sugar till 15th May 2015, as against 10.01 lac tons produced as on 15th May, 2014.
· As per reports submitted by sugar mills, despatches of sugar for domestic consumption during the current season till 30th April, 2015, was almost at the same level of 146 lac tons.
· Due to depressed global sugar prices which are not still not viable for export of both raw and export, sugar exports are at a very low pace and so far, mills have exported only 4.6 lac tons of sugar till first week of May, 2015. Another 2-3 lac tons of sugar may get exported in the remaining period of the season.
· Closing stock at the end of the current season is estimated to be at a higher level of around 103 lac tons, the highest in the last six sugar seasons. Sugar prices in the domestic market is highly depressed and are ruling at Rs. 2600 per quintal in Northern parts of the country and at Rs. 2300 per quintal in Southern and Western parts of the country.
· Cane price arrears have crossed Rs. 21,000 crore which is almost 35% of the total cane price payable in the season. It also means that either 1 out of 3 farmers have not got the payment or the farmer has not got payment for 35% of his produce. This is the worst ever situation in the history of the Indian sugar sector. However, despite such huge cane price arrears, area under sugarcane is estimated to remain at the same level and sugarcane availability in the next year seems to be more than the requirement for the fifth year in continuation.
· Returns to farmers from sugarcane is almost 50% more than the returns from the competing crops like wheat and paddy, cotton, soya etc. The cane price have gone up by over 50% in the last three years, unmatched by any other crop in the country. On the other hand, the sugar price have only fallen and are at its lowest in the last 6 years.
· There is need to adopt rationalized cane pricing policy across the country and check the huge mismatch between sugarcane price and sugar price which is currently distorting the economics of sugarcane and sugar production.
· The reason for surplus sugar is only because surplus sugarcane is getting produced and the mills are under legal compulsion to crush all the sugarcane, resulting in surplus sugar. Therefore, either the Government pays the cane price arrears to the farmers directly or assists the industry by buying out 3 million tons of sugar at the FRP based cost of production as well as ensuring that the ex-mill sugar price at least covers the costs of producing sugar.
· Time is running out and, therefore, Government needs to intervene quickly, otherwise, experts feel that more than a quarter of the sugar mills may not be able to start their crushing operations next season, 4 to 5 months away.