India may become net importer of sugar as drought parches fields [Agriculture]
- India is likely to become a net importer of sugar in 2016-17 as back-to-back drought years dry irrigation channels and ravage cane fields, with output in the country's biggest producing state seen dropping over 40 per cent.
- That would mark the first time the nation has been a net importer of the sweetener in four years.
- It would also give rival producers such as Pakistan, Thailand and Brazil the chance to boost shipments from their ports.
- Drought has severely affected cane plantation in Maharashtra. The government should stop exports now to reduce import requirements in the next season.
- The El Nino weather phenomenon which brings dry conditions to many regions, has stoked the worst drought in decades in some parts of India, with thousands of small-scale sugar cane growers in Maharashtra State failing to cultivate crops for the next marketing year, starting October.
- The world's biggest sugar consumer is set to churn out 25.7 million tonnes in the current season, with Maharashtra contributing 8.5 million tonnes. Indian mills are contracted to export nearly 1.5 million tonnes this season.
- Indian imports have in the past boosted global sugar prices. The global supply deficit is going to rise with the Indian shortfall.