Current Scenario of Sugarcane Agriculture and Sugar Industry in India

Production Scenario

India is the second largest producer of sugar after Brazil. India’s sugar production during 2013-14 was 24.55 million MT which is expected to increase by 4%to 25.59 million MT in the 2014-15 crushing season. With an estimated opening balance of sugar of around 7.5 million tonnes, as on October 1, 2014, and sugar production as estimated above, there will sufficient sugar to take care of domestic requirement (ISMA, 2014). India’s share in world sugar production was 15.30% in 2012-13 and 15.20% in 2013-14.

Sugarcane is grown in 3.0% of the total cultivable area of India, contributing 7.5% gross value of agricultural production. Sugarcane acreage during 2013-14 was 5.01 million hectare which is 13,000 hectares lesser than 2012-13 acreage.

According to the latest estimates released by the Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture (Oct 2014), sugarcane acreage in the 2014-15 season is 4.87 million hectares.Sugarcane production during 2013-14 was 350.02 million tonnes which are projected lower by 2% at 342.8 million tonnes in 2014-15 sugar season (Oct 14-Sept 15) (Source: DAC’s 1st advance estimate dt 19.9.2014). During 2013-14, Uttar Pradesh holds the largest share in acreage (44.14% of India’s cane area), followed by Maharashtra (19.02%) and Karnataka (8.33%). These three States together accounted for 71.49% of the cane area of the country.


Sugarcane production was the highest in U.P. (38.56% of India’s production), followed by Maharashtra (21.79%), Tamil Nadu (10.85%) and Karnataka (10.02%). Nonetheless, sugar production was the highest in Maharashtra (32.20% of the total sugar production in the country) than U.P (26.96%) due to high recovery rate in Maharashtra and relatively higher diversion of cane to gur and Khand sari production in Uttar Pradesh. Karnataka is the 3rd major contributor to sugar production in India (17.07% of the total sugar output), due to its high recovery and rising profitability of sugarcane in the State.

During the year 2013-14, countries like Philippines, Peru, Ethiopia, Egypt and Guatemala realized >100 tonnes sugarcane yield per hectare. But the average cane yield/ha in India has remained stable at 68.3 t/ha (in 2012-13) to 69.8 t/ha in 2013-14. During 2013-14, sugarcane yield in high productivity zone (>70 t/ha) like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat ranged from 72.1 t/ha to 96.9 t/ha with an average of 82.1 t/ha.

The range of cane yield in medium productivity zones (50-70 t/ha) like Haryana, Jharkhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Bihar was 56.8 t/ha to 73 t/ha with the mean of 65.4 t/ha. In low productivity zones (< 50 t/ha) like Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Chhatisgarh the yield level was 27.3 t/ha to 42.2 t/ha (average=35.6 t/ha). As in the previous years, the productivity of subtropical States has remained lower (60.3 t/ha) than tropical States (67.9 t/ha). Cane yield in India is higher than our neighbouring countries like Pakistan (46.7 t/ha), Bangladesh (40.5 t/ha), Nepal (45.4 t/ha), Sri Lanka (53.8 t/ha) but lower than Indonesia (74.88 t/ha), Brazil (75.16 t/ha) and Australia (82.4 t/ha).

Countries like Australia have been realizing 12-14% sugar recovery. Brazil, South Africa and the United States are obtaining 11-12% recovery as against 10.26% (2013-14) in India.The average recovery percentage in India during the past five years remained static around 10.2 to 10.6.There is a vast difference in the recovery percentage from one State to another and even from factory to factory in a State. The sugar recovery in the high recovery zone (>10%) like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh ranged from 10.64 to 11.42, with an average recovery of 11.05%.

In the low recovery zone (<9%), the recovery was 8.18% in Rajasthan and 8.34% in West Bengal and 8.48% in Bihar and the average was 8.49%. This is a great concern for the industry. In the medium recovery States (9-10%) like Haryana, Jharkhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Uttarakhand the recovery was 9.22% to 9.88 with an average of 9.47%. The recovery in the subtropical region during the 203-14 season was as usual low (8.86%) in comparison to tropical region recovery (9.81%). The cost of sugarcane cultivation in the country is increasing steadily.

The total cost of cultivation is worked out to be Rs. 67,396 /ha in Uttarakhand, Rs. 78,549/ha in U.P., Rs. 97,411/ha in Karnataka, Rs. 1.11 lakh/ha in Haryana, Rs. 1.24 lakhs/ha in A.P., 1.347 lakh/ha in Tamil Nadu and Rs. 1.47 lakh/ha in Maharashtra. About 22-25% cost of cultivation goes to harvest and transport alone. The labour cost for harvest has increased from Rs. 225-450 per ton in 2010-11 to Rs. 500 to 650 per ton in 2013-14. Non-availability / scarcity of labour at the time of sugarcane harvesting and planting is a serious problem than labour cost per se. Mechanization is the way forward to reduce the labour cost. The high cost of production, the low yield of Sugarcane, high sugar price and the non-availability of labour for planting, weeding, earthing up, propping and harvest are the major concerns of cane growers in the country.

Industry scenario There of 702 installed sugar industries in India (43 in public sector, 324 in cooperative sector and 335 in private sector). The number of sugar mills functioned during 2012-13 crushing seasons was 526 but it reduced to 520 during the 2013-14 crushing season. Four mills in Maharashtra, two each in A.P. and U.P., one each in Punjab, T.N. and W.B. did not function in 2013-14, but at the same time there was new mill came into operation in Dadra & Nagar Haveli and M.P. (1 each) and Gujarat (2 miles).

About 50 million cane growers and 5 lakh workers derive their livelihood from sugar sector. The annual output of India’s sugar industry is estimated to be. 80,000 crores. The domestic requirement of sugar in 2014 was 23 million tonnes and projected requirement in 2030 is 36 million tonnes i.e. 50% higher than the present production. To achieve this target, Sugarcane production should reach to 350 million tonnes, productivity should be improved to 90 t/ha and sugar recovery to 11%.

The Govt of India has hiked the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) from Rs. 210/q in the 2013-14 season to Rs. 220 /q for 2014-15 crushing season linked to a basic recovery rate of 9.5% and a premium of Rs. 2.21 per quintal for every 0.1 percentage point increase in recovery above that level. The SAP declared by the State Govt for 2013-14 crushing season varied from Rs. 240/q in Karnataka, Rs. 265/q in Tamil Nadu, Rs. 275 to 290/q in U.P., Rs. 280 to 295/ q in Punjab and Uttarakhand and Rs. 290-301/q in Haryana.

The Central Government has considered the recommendations of Dr C. Rangarajan Committee on deregulation of sugar sector and decided to do away with levy obligation on sugar mills for sugar produced after September 2012 and dispense with the regulated release mechanism on the open market sale of sugar. The recommendations of the Committee relating to Cane Area Reservation, Minimum Distance Criteria and adoption of the Cane Price Formula have been left to the State Governments for adoption and implementation, as considered appropriate by them.

Diversification of sugar industries by-products is needed to keep the industry vibrant and viable. Govt of India has allowed 5% doping of ethanol with Petrol for running motor vehicle. Molasses is the cheapest feedstock for the distilleries. Presently, 152 ethanol plants are attached to sugar mills, with the capacity to produce 7,306 Kilo Lit alcohol /day. Cogeneration using bagasse is viewed as another option. The installed capacity of cogeneration plants in India is 3200 MW/day but the potential worked out to be around 5,000 MW/day. Sugarcane bagasse has comparable fibre properties as that of wood pulp. About 10% of the bagasse bulb has been used as a substitute for wood pulp in the paper industry in China, South America, Thailand and also in India but increased R&D efforts are needed in this direction.


Varietal scenario

About 30 research stations in India are engaged in sugarcane varietal improvement programme. The ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute at Coimbatore and its Regional Centres in the different States of India are playing a pivotal role in sugarcane improvement in the country since its inception in 1912. During the period from 1918 to 2013, a total of 520 sugarcane varieties were evolved and released by SBI and other research institutions for commercial cultivation in India. This includes 319 varieties for the subtropical region and 201 varieties for the subtropical states. Since 2000-01 a number of sugarcane varieties were released by the ICAR institutes and SAUs. A partial list of recently released varieties (after 2000-01) are given below


a) New Sugarcane varieties for Tropical States:

Co 0218, Co 0403, Co 06027, Co 06030, Co 2000-13, Co 2000-15, Co 91010, Co 92005, Co 94008, Co 94012, Co 99004, CoA 03081 (97A 85), CoA 88081 (84A 125), CoA 99082 (93A 145), CoC (SC) 22, CoC (SC) 23, CoC (SC) 24, CoC 01061, CoC 08336, CoM 0265, CoM 7714, CoM 88121, CoN 85134, CoSnk-004, CoSnk03044, CoSnk 03632, CoSnk 05103, CoSnk 05104, CoV 94101 (86V 96), CoV 95101 (91V 83), CoVC 2003-165, CoVC 99463, VCF 0517.


b) New Sugarcane varieties for Subtropical States:-

BO 145, BO 146, BO 147, BO 153, Co 0118, Co 0124, Co 0232, Co 0233, Co 0237, Co 0238, Co 05009, Co 05011, Co 98014, CoBln 02173, CoBln 90006, CoBln 9101, CoBln 9102, CoBln 9103, CoBln 9104, CoBln 9105, CoBln 94063, CoH 110, CoH 119, CoH 128, CoJ 88, CoJ 89, CoLk 94184, CoP 2061, CoP 9702, CoPant 03220, CoPant 90222, CoPant 94211, CoPant 96219, CoPant 97222, CoPant 99214, CoPb 09181 (CoPb 91), CoPk 05191, CoS 03251, CoS 07250, CoS 08272, CoS 96269, CoS 96275, CoS 97261, CoS 98259, CoS 99259, CoSe 00235, CoSe 01235, CoSe 01424, CoSe 01434, CoSe 03234, CoSe 96234, UP 0097 and UP 05125.


Seed cane scenario

About 11.9% of the total sugarcane production in the country is being utilized for seed and chewing purpose. However, the seed replacement rate either with disease free quality planting materials or with tissue culture materials or with seeds of improved varieties appears to be low. It is another concern today. The normal practice in many parts of the country is to use a commercial crop of sugarcane for seed purpose. Sugarcane is a vegetatively propagated crop. It tends to accumulate diseases very quickly during the course of cultivation.

Therefore, quality planting materials assume importance to sustain yield and soil health. Many sugar mills in South are following the three tier seed nursery programme comprising of primary, secondary ad commercial nurseries but it has to pick up in a large way in North. In the absence of seed nursery programme, the sugar mills can adopt seed village concept, where the entire village is declared as seed village, the quality of seed materials is monitored with the help of scientists from research stations.

Sugarcane seed is bulky in nature and different classes of seeds are not maintained. Once in a cycle of 5-6 years, planting materials for seed crop should be drawn from heat treated setts or tissue culture derived cane. The tissue culture techniques particularly the meristem culture combined with virus indexing can be used for multiplication of newly developed varieties and rejuvenation of old varieties which are under cultivation. At ICAR-SBI, Coimbatore virus indexed tissue culture seedlings and mother culture flask of improved sugarcane varieties are being produced and distributed to farmers and sugar mills. Bud chip technology is another way of faster multiplication of seed cane.




  • Sugarcane Breeding Institute
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