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Pune: In spite of Omicron threat, sugar industry cautiously optimistic about exports

🔴 According to industry insiders, India is expected to export 60 lakh tonnes of sugar this season.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: December 1, 2021 11:23:26 am
Ethanol has been a game changer and equity earner for the sugar industry and had helped them to clear their cane dues on time. (File)

India’s sugar industry is cautiously hopeful of good exports despite the threat of the newly-reported Omicron variant of Covid-19 virus. While several African countries are important markets for Indian sugar, most of them are located in the north of the continent and not south, where cases of the new strain have been detected.

According to industry insiders, India is expected to export 60 lakh tonnes of sugar this season.

Abinash Verma, director general of Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), the apex body of most private mills in the country, pointed out that the last two waves of Covid-19 infections have not seen the country’s exports suffering much.

India’s sugar export has remained robust for the last two seasons despite the emergence and spread of Covid-19 virus. For sugar season 2019-20, India had exported 59.50 lt while for season 2020-21, the country had shipped out close to 71 lt.

“This season, we expect nearly 60 lt of exports,” said Verma.

Somalia and Ethiopia are among African nations that are important markets for Indian sugar. “However, most of our markets are in the northern part of the continent while the mutation has been reported mainly from the southern half of Africa,” he said.

By now, the industry has figured out some ways to minimise the fallout of the infections and the impact on sale and exports, said Verma.

“Of course, during the lockdown, there were problems of labour shortage and containers were difficult to get, but overall the industry has seen good exports,” he said.

This season, too, exports are expected to be good despite the emergence of the new variant, said Verma.

Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, sugar mills have raced ahead both in terms of cane crushed as well as payment of basic Fair and Remunerative Price for cane purchased from farmers.

As of November 15, mills in the state have crushed 26.88 lt of cane, for which they have to pay Rs 881.90 crore by way of the FRP as determined by the government. Of this, mills till date have paid Rs 317.91 crore, which is nearly 44.05 per cent of the total dues. Seventeen of the 74 mills have cleared 100 per cent of their dues.

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