The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said that the sugar industry in the country had produced 230.5 lakh tonnes of sugar between October 1, 2017, and February 28, 2018, as against 162.45 lakh tonnes during the same period last year, up by 42 percent.
It added that as on February 28, 2018, 479 sugar mills were still working, and 522 sugar mills were functioning during the current season.
The marketing year for a sugar industry is accounted from October to September month.
It said that "due to the drought in the Western and Southern parts of the country, the production of sugar was less during last year and the industry had produced lowest one in the last 7 to 8 years, during 2016-2017."
"This year, the availability of sugar is more in the market due to various reasons like better rainfall and all the sugar manufacturing industries started the crushing operations much earlier than the defined period. The sugars were crushed at the fullest capacity as compared to last year," it added.
For the period ending February 28, 2018, Uttar Pradesh has produced 73.95 lakh tonnes of sugar, whereas Karnataka has produced 33.44 lakh tonnes of sugar.
During February 2018, there was a substantial improvement in the market sentiments and buying interests, by both the bulk consumers as well as the domestic traders. The pipeline between the sugar mills and retail market is reportedly very thin and, therefore, with an improvement in the market sentiments, there is reportedly better buying interest for stocking purpose also.
The government's decision to increase import duty on sugar from 50% to 100% and control on sugar sales by the sugar mills for the two months of February and March 2018, has bought improvement in the prices of sugar across the country by over 10%.
The ISMA said in a statement that "Considering that there is reportedly larger sugar production in the current year as also expected in the next 2018-2019 season, there is a need to export at least 15 lakh tons in the current season itself over the next 6-7 months."
It observed that - this would give extra cash flows to the sugar mills, which in turn, will improve cane price payments to the sugarcane farmers and will reduce the cane price arrears, which is accumulating very fast to uncomfortable levels.