MUMBAI (Reuters) - Millers in India’s Maharashtra state will start crushing sugarcane from Nov. 1 as heavy rain over the last few days has made it difficult to bring operations forward as hoped, two government officials said on Wednesday.
The federal government wanted millers in Maharashtra, the country’s second-biggest sugar producing state, to advance crushing to boost sugar supplies during the current festive season and keep a lid on local prices.
“In today’s meeting with the chief minister we have decided to start crushing from Nov. 1, considering heavy rainfall in central Maharashtra in the last few days,” a senior government official who attended the meeting said.
Maharashtra’s sugar output in the 2017-18 marketing year which starts on Oct. 1 is expected to rise 75 percent from a year ago to 7.34 million tonnes, the official said.
“The area under sugarcane has increased and weather was also good this year,” he said.
The state has prohibited the supply of sugarcane to neighbouring states for crushing.
Maharashtra’s sugar production slumped 50 percent in the 2016-17 season to 4.18 million tonnes as it suffered from back-to-back droughts. The sharp drop in output has driven India to import the sweetener.
India, the world’s biggest sugar consumer, earlier this month allowed imports of 300,000 tonnes of sugar at lower tax rates, on top of 500,000 tonnes of duty free imports allowed in April.
Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; editing by David Clarke