The government has estimated sugar production to decline to 32.3-33 million tonnes in the 2023-24 season (October-September), as against 37.3 million tonnes in the previous season
The government on Friday allowed sugar mills to use both cane juice and B-heavy molasses to produce ethanol but capped the diversion of sugar for the purpose at 17 lakh tonnes for the ongoing 2023-24 supply year. The latest decision comes a week after the government prohibited the use of sugarcane juice and sugar syrup for making ethanol, amid the industry seeking reversal of the decision.
“The flexibility has been given to sugar mills for using both sugarcane juice and B-heavy within an overall cap of 17 lakh tonnes of diversion of sugar for making ethanol in the ongoing 2023-24 supply year (November-October),” Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra told PTI. A committee of ministers took the decision during its meeting on Friday, he said. The decision has been taken amid representation received from the industry to review the December 7 order that banned use of cane juice and sugar syrup with immediate effect.
It, however, had allowed supply of ethanol from existing offers received by Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) from B-heavy molasses. “We are working on modalities to decide on proportion of cane juice and B-heavy molasses to be used for making ethanol,” Chopra said. Already some quantity of ethanol has been produced using cane juice in the current supply year, he added.
Another food ministry official said about 6 lakh tonne of ethanol has already been produced using cane juice before the government issued the December 7 order. The government has estimated sugar production to decline to 32.3-33 million tonnes in the 2023-24 season (October-September), as against 37.3 million tonnes in the previous season.
“We were anticipating cane production to be low but didn’t anticipate it to go down further. The recent rain has brought the recovery per cent further down. The drought in Maharashtra and Karnataka is worrying,” Chopra had said recently.