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    India has ample sugar stock to cater to the sweet tooth of citizens at reasonable prices


    India's food secretary has dismissed rumors of an impending sugar shortage, stating that there is currently enough supply to meet the country's consumption needs for three and a half months. Concerns had arisen about low sugar production in India, the world's second-largest sugar producer, leading to potential price spikes and export bans. Sugar companies' shares rose following reports of a possible drop in production in Maharashtra.

    'Shortage rumours about sugar not true,' says Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra
    India's food secretary dispelled reports about looming sugar shortage in the country as a 'rumor' and a government statement on Thursday said the sweetener will be available in the most populated country at reasonable prices through the year.

    "Availability of sugar in the country is about 85 lakh tons as of now, which is sufficient for three and a half months of the consumption requirement of the country. We are not forcing any kind of upswing in the price in the upcoming festive season and there is some kind of a rumour being created about the shortages in the country," said Food Secretary Sanjiv Chopra.

    This comes amid widespread concerns that sugar production may be low in the country, which is the world's second-largest sugar producer and a major exporter. There were also reports that the government may consider banning sugar exports to control potential price spike amid supply shortages. Output in Maharashtra, India's top sugar producing state, is also feared to hit the lowest in four years.

    The Department of Food and Public Distribution from Ministry of Consumer Affairs on Thursday said that timely measures by New Delhi have ensured sufficient availability of sugar at reasonable prices across states for the whole year.

    As the current Sugar Season (Oct-Sep) 2022-23 is coming to an end on September 30, India has already crossed sugar production of 330 LMT excluding diversion of about 43 LMT for ethanol production. Thus, total sucrose production in the country would be about 373 LMT which is second highest in last 5 sugar seasons, added the official statement.

    Ensuring priority to citizens of the country and clearance of cane due to farmers, India restricted export quota to about 61 LMT only. This has resulted in an optimal stock of approximately 83 LMT of sugar at the end of August, 2023.

    This stock is sufficient to meet approximately 3 and half months of consumption i.e. optimum stock available in the country at the end of current sugar season 2022-23. This fact reassures the domestic consumers that sugar is expected to be available for them at a reasonable price in future also, read the official statement further.

    Meanwhile, sugar companies' shares soared on Thursday after reports that output in Maharashtra could fall. This could lead to higher sugar prices and boost the profitability of top companies in the sector, said analysts.

    Sakthi Sugars jumped 11.3%, Dhampur Sugar gained 10.4%, Dwarikesh Sugar rose 9.8%, Bajaj Hindusthan advanced 7.2% and Balrampur Chini moved up 4.8%.

    "The rains were deficient in August. However, the heartening feature is that since beginning of this month, the rains have been good as a result of which the crops have revived in particularly in Maharashtra and Karnataka," the food secretary said.

    As forecast by IMD, till date monsoon has been normal this month and sugarcane areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka have also received rains, improving prospects for better crops and recovery in ensuing Sugar Season 2023-24. State Cane Commissioners of all sugar-producing states have been requested to keep a watch on the status of crops and update their information on area under cane, yield and anticipated sugar production.

    This information would become basis for taking any decision regarding sugar export policy for next season.

    The Indian government has sought information related to traders from various sugar mills so that a mechanism may be put in place to closely monitor sugar stock in various parts of the country. Industry Associations also, in their feedback, have confirmed sufficient stocks and appreciated that achievement of optimum closing balance of sugar at the end of season has resulted in better financial status of mills, read the official from Department of Food and Public Distribution.

    It is outcome of all collective efforts of Government and Industry that more than Rs 1.07 crores (94 per cent of cane dues of current season) have already been paid by mills which further creates enthusiasm among farmers about the Sugar Sector.

    (with ANI inputs)
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