The Economic Times (India)
September 1, 2009

NEW DELHI: India would import sugar in the 2009-10 season starting October to tide over a deficit in output as drought and fewer stocks from this
season have set prices spiralling.

"As per the intital estimate of sugarcane availability during 2009-10 sugar season, it is expected that the country would require to supplement its domestic availability of sugar with imports," Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said here today at a conference.

Nevertheless, sugar prices may touch Rs 40 a kg, more than double from a year earlier, when fresh imported consignments land here in the next season, according to the National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories President, Jayantilal B Patel.

The overseas rate of sugar will spiral upward due to a shortage in major producing countries like India, he observed.

India, the largest sugar consumer in the world, had to import the sweetener in 2008-09 after production fell to about 15 million tonnes against its annual domestic requirement of 22.5-23 million tonnes.

Worse still, sugar stocks from this season would be significantly lower, compared with those of ten million tonnes from the last season, Pawar said.

"We will be starting the next sugar season from October 1, 2009 with a much smaller opening balance in comparision with the previous year," he said.