Context: The Indian government is concerned about El Nino’s impact on the upcoming monsoon and has imposed a virtual ban on sugar exports, allowing only up to 6.1 million tonnes.
Sugarcane industry in India
- Sugarcane belongs to bamboo family of plants and is indigenous to India.
- It is a long duration crop and requires 10-15 months to mature, depending upon the geographical conditions.
- It requires hot and humid climate with average temperature of 21° – 27° Celsius.
- It usually grows well in areas receiving rainfall varying from 100 to 150 cm.
- It can grow on variety of soils including loams, clayey loams, black cotton soils, brown or reddish loams and even laterites.
- India is the second largest exporter of sugarcane in the world.
- It is a water guzzling crop and is often blamed for worsening water crisis in parched areas of India.
- The Sutlej – Ganga plain from Punjab to Bihar containing 51% of the total area and 60% of the country’s total production.
- The Black soil belt from Maharashtra to Tamil Nadu along the eastern slopes of Western Ghats.
- Coastal Andhra and Krishna Valley.
Sugar can be produced from sugarcane, sugar-beet or any other crop having sugar content. At present, it is the second largest Agro based industry of India after cotton textile industry.
Localization of Sugar Industry:
- The establishment of the sugar industry in India is reliant on sugarcane as its primary raw material, which is heavy, low in value, and has a tendency to lose weight and perish quickly.
- Due to the inevitable loss of sucrose content, sugarcane cannot be stored for extended periods of time, and transportation over long distances is not feasible as the transportation costs would increase the overall cost of production, and the sugarcane may dry up en route.
- As a result, the sugar industry is typically located in regions where sugarcane cultivation is prevalent.
Distribution of Sugar industry:
- Maharashtra dominates the sugar production in India and accounts for over 33% of the total sugar production in the country.
- Uttar Pradesh is the second-largest sugar-producing state, with sugar factories concentrated in two regions, the Ganga-Yamuna doab and the terai region.
- In Tamil Nadu, the sugar industry is mainly concentrated in Coimbatore and Vellore districts.
- The sugar industry in Andhra Pradesh is mainly located in the coastal regions, such as East Godavari, West Godavari, and Vishakhapatnam districts.
- Other states that contribute to the sugar production in India are Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.
Difference between the Sugar Industry of Northern and Peninsular India
- Peninsular India has tropical climate which gives higher yield per unit area as compared to north India.
- The sucrose content is also higher in tropical variety of sugarcane in the south.
- The crushing season is also much longer in the south than in the north.
- The cooperative sugar mills are better managed in south than in the north.
- Most of the mills in south are new which are equipped with modern machinery.
Problems of Sugar Industry
- Low yield of sugarcane: Although India has the largest area under sugarcane cultivation, the yield per hectare is extremely low as compared to major sugar producing countries.
- Short crushing season: Manufacturing of sugar is a seasonal phenomenon with short crushing season varying normally from 4 to 7 months in a year.
- Fluctuating Production: Due to fluctuation in production, sugarcane has to compete with several other food and cash crops like cotton, oil seeds, rice, etc.
- Low rate of recovery: The average rate of recovery in India is less than 10% which is quite low as compared to other major sugar producing countries.
- High cost of production: High cost of sugarcane, inefficient technology, uneconomic process of production and heavy excise duty result in high cost of manufacturing.
- Obsolete machinery: Most of the machinery used in Indian sugar mills, particularly those of UP and Bihar is old and obsolete.
- Regional imbalances in distribution: Over half of sugar mills are located in Maharashtra and UP and about 60% of the production comes from these states.