New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) With cane arrears in the country touching Rs 20,000 crore this year, the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) on Monday said it has asked the government to enforce sugar exports under the Minimum Indicative Export Quota (MIEQ).
In a statement, the industry body said several sugar mills were either not voluntarily willing to export sugar against their allocated export quotas or did not find it viable enough to do so.
"Therefore, in order to ensure that all mills fulfil their allocated export quotas, the ISMA has requested that the government should enforce the quotas," it said.
It said 514 sugar mills in the country have produced 18.52 million tonnes of sugar till January 31, as compared to 17.12 million tonnes by 504 mills during the corresponding period last year.
Considering the pace of crushing in the remaining three peak months of current sugar year 2018-19 and the average ex-mill prices being at around Rs 29-30, millers might not be able to clear the dues on time, it said.
It said the cane price arrears across the country were estimated to be about Rs 20,000 crore at the end of January.
"It is feared that it may further increase to very uncomfortable levels by the end of April 2019," it said.
Ex-mill sugar prices across the country are ruling in the range of Rs 29-30 per kg which is about Rs 5 to 6 per kg below the cost of production of sugar, it said.
ISMA has requested the Central government to increase the minimum ex-mill price of sugar to Rs 35-36 per kg so that the sugar mills could recover their costs and improve their fund position for payment of cane price to the farmers and also service their debts and other obligatory payments.
Sugar production in the country has increased by 8 per cent year-on-year to 18.52 million tonnes till January 31 but overall output at the end of the season would be lower than the previous year, ISMA said.
Total sugar production in the country would be around 30.7 million tonnes in 2018-19 as against 32.25 million tonnes in 2017-18.
Uttar Pradesh has produced 5.33 million tonnes of sugar till January 31.
Maharashtra has produced 7.07 million tonnes while Karnataka has produced 3.34 million tonnes till January 31.
The industry body said sugar production at the end of January was 0.31 million tonnes in Tamil Nadu, 0.65 million tonnes in Gujarat, 0.41 million tonnes in Bihar, 0.37 million tonnes in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, 0.29 million tonnes in Punjab, 0.17 million tonnes in Uttarakhand and 0.26 million tonnes in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.