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Floods likely to take toll on sugar production in Maharashtra

As per the sources, sugar output in Maharashtra is expected to remain lower than expected after the floods damaged crops and as some farmers sell cane for feed. Output in the state is predicted to remain at 5.3 million tonnes in the year starting October 1 in comparison to previous estimate of 6.44 million tonnes. If this happens to be true, it will be half of last year’s produce, which was estimated to be 10.7 million tonnes. About 1,00,000 hectares (247,105 acres) out of 8,43,000 hectares of cane that will be available for crushing next season have been hit by floods caused by excess rainfall last month. Prolonged dry weather earlier on caused cattle fodder shortages in the state. That is helping farmers get attractive returns by selling cane for feed. Cane prices, fixed by the Government, generally stay above fodder costs, except in unusual years when poor rains boost feed prices. India, which vies with Brazil as the top producer, swings between importer and exporter, depending upon the output. Farmers in Maharashtra are selling cane in the cattle-feed market for as much as Rs 3,500 ($49) a ton compared with a Government-set price of about Rs 2,750 they expect from sugar mills in 2019-20. However, inventories are expected to remain high despite predictions that the sugar output may drop to a three-year low of 28.2 million tons in 2019-20 from a record 32.95 million tons this year after dry weather parched fields, according to the Indian Sugar Mills Association. A bigger drop in production will reduce the record surplus, potentially curbing exports and supporting global prices. India’s sugar exports is expected to climb to between 3.7 million and 3.8 million tonnes this year, with mills asking the Government to help ship a record 7 million tonnes in 2019-20.