Sugar output to top earlier estimates: Pawar

Food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar yesterday said the country's sugar production may touch 18-18.1 million tonnes in the current season ending September, a 13 per cent increase over the earlier estimate of 16 million tonnes.

However, the output is still far short of India's annual demand of 23 million tonnes.

In the beginning of the season, the government had estimated sugar production at 16 million tonnes against 14.7 million tonnes in the last season. According to official data, the country is estimated to have produced 16.7 million tonnes of sugar in the first six months of the 2009-10 season. India's sugar year runs from October to September.

Going by Pawar's estimates, as much as 1.4 million tonnes of sugar is likely to be produced in the remaining period of the sugar season, which runs from October to September.

The minister has been indicating a possible rise in sugar production in the last few weeks after receiving positive trends from the country's top two sugar producing states -- Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh-- where cane yields have increased, boosting crushing in mills.

While the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories (NFCSF) recently revised sugar output estimates upwards to 18 million tonnes after the mills reported that they are able to crush more due to increased supply of cane.