Sugar prices have been on the rise worldwide, reaching multi-week highs recently. While the global sugar market experiences tight supplies and witnesses an 11-year high in April 2023.India has managed to maintain relatively stable domestic sugar prices, offering some relief to consumers. India, the world’s second-largest sugar producer, is now facing the challenge of delayed monsoon rains, which could potentially lead to lower sugar production and affect future export capabilities. Let’s explore the current situation, the potential impact on sugarcane production, and the Indian government’s consideration regarding sugar exports.
Current Market Situation
- El Nino’s Impact On Sugar Production – El Nino’s return has brought unpredictable weather patterns to various regions, significantly affecting sugar production. Brazil often experiences floods during El Nino, while India sees reduced rainfall. The weather disturbances disrupt the sugar crop’s growth, leading to potential supply shortages and price hikes.
- Insufficient Rainfall & Drought-like Situation- In major growing districts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, the delayed onset of monsoon rains has become worrisome among sugarcane farmers. Insufficient rainfall has resulted in a drought-like situation, causing stress to the cane crops.In Maharashtra, the rainfall deficit in various districts ranges from 81%-99%. Solapur is experiencing severe scarcity, with a rainfall deficit of 99%. In North Karnataka’s major growing districts of Belgaum and Bagalkot, rainfall deficits range from 77%-82%.
- Positive Weather Forecast– There is some hope on the horizon as weather forecasts predict good rains of 60-80 mm over these regions in the next two weeks. This rainfall may help improve crop conditions to some extent. The next 10 days are crucial for the sugarcane crop, and monitoring rainfall developments over the upcoming month will provide insights into the yield’s impact.
- Sugar Production Decline– During the previous season, Maharashtra witnessed a sugar production decline as mills ended operations early. The mills produced 105.27 LMT (lakh metric tons) of sugar compared to 137.27 LMT in the 2021-22 season, primarily due to untimely rainfall between September 2022-December 2022. The average sugar recovery rate was 9.98%, reflecting the challenges faced by farmers.
- Sugar Exports Potential Cap– To ensure sufficient domestic sugar supply, the Indian government is considering capping sugar exports until at least the first half of 2024. This measure takes into account the potential impact of El Nino on agricultural output.
The delayed monsoon and declining water levels in reservoirs have raised concerns among sugarcane farmers in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Insufficient rainfall has already caused a delay in sowing, putting the upcoming sugarcane season at risk. Weather forecasts offer some hope for improvement in the coming weeks.Additionally, the sugar production decline in Maharashtra and the potential cap on sugar exports highlight the need for careful management of resources to meet domestic demands. The Indian government’s consideration of export restrictions demonstrates their commitment to ensuring adequate sugar supply within the country. Balancing domestic needs with potential export opportunities is essential to maintain stability in the sugar market.