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How India’s sugar shipments to the world are surging

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Agriculture


Source: IE

Context: India has become world No. 2 in sugar export, behind only Brazil.



  • India’s sugar export (in 2016-17) was 0.46 lakh tonnes (lt), which has now increased to 110 lt by 2021-22.
  • India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar
  • Importers of Indian Raw Sugar: Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia


Types of Sugar:

  • Raw Brown sugar: Raw sugar is what mills produce after the first crystallisation of juice obtained from the crushing of cane. This sugar is rough and brownish in colour.
    • Most of the world’s sugar trade is in ‘raws’ and they can be transported in bulk vessels and requires no bagging or containerisation.
    • Till 2017-18, India hardly exported any raw sugar.
  • Refined White sugar: Raw sugar after being processed in refineries for the removal of impurities and de-colourisation.


Advantages of Indian raw sugar in the International Market:

  • Season advantage: India’s crushing is from October to April, whereas Brazilian mills operate from April to November. Hence, importers are utilising Indian raw sugar during Brazil’s off-season.
  • Freight cost savings: India is much closer to its major sugar importers (compared to Brazil) and therefore less freight cost.
  • Indian sugar is free of dextran: Dextran is a bacterial compound formed when sugarcane stays in the sun for too long after harvesting.
  • Indian raw sugar has no dextran, as it is produced from fresh cane crushed within 12-24 hours of harvesting (compared to 48 hours or more in Brazil)
  • India’s sugar has a higher % of sucrose present


Government Policies for higher Sugar Production:

  • Pricing:
    • Fair and remunerative price (FRP):The FRP is the minimum price that sugar mills have to pay to sugarcane farmers for the procurement of sugarcane.
    • State-Advised Price: Although the Central government decides the FRP the state governments can also set a State Advised price that a sugar mill has to pay to the farmers.
  • Encouraging Ethanol Production to be used in Ethanol Blending with Petrol (EBP) Programme
  • Scheme for Extending Financial Assistance to Sugar Undertakings (SEFASU)
  • National Policy on Biofuels2018



Lower stocks, lower production and concerns about domestic availability and food inflation have led the government to cap India’s exports in the current sugar year. However, once the overseas markets are lost, they are not easy to regain.



Rangarajan committee (2012) has recommended the abolition of the quantitative controls on the export and import of sugar, these should be replaced by appropriate tariffs.


About Sugar Industry:

  • The sugar industry is the second largest agro-based industry in India after cotton.
  • Employment: 50 million sugarcane farmers and around 5 lakh workers are directly employed in sugar mills.

Insta Links

Sugar Export Curbs


Mains Links

Discuss the significance of the Minimum Selling Price (MSP) for sugar.


Prelims Links

Q According to India’s National Policy on Biofuels, which of the following can be used as raw materials for the production of biofuels? (UPSC 2020)

  1. Cassava
  2. Damaged wheat grains
  3. Groundnut seeds
  4. Horse gram
  5. Rotten potatoes
  6. Sugar beet


Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2, 5 and 6 only
(b) 1, 3, 4 and 6 only
(c) 2, 3, 4 and 5 only
(d) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6


Ans: A


The National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, allows the production of ethanol from sugarcane juice, sugar-containing materials like sugar beet, and sweet sorghum, starch-containing materials like corn, cassava, damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, rotten potatoes, unfit for human consumption.



With reference to the current trends in the cultivation of sugarcane in India, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2020)

  1. A substantial saving in seed material is made when ‘bud chip settlings’ are raised in a nurse and transplanted in the main field.
  2. When direct planting of setts is done, the germination percentage is better with single-budded setts as compared to setts with many buds.
  3. If bad weather conditions prevail when setts are directly planted, single-budded setts have better survival as compared to large setts.
  4. Sugarcane can be cultivated using settlings prepared from tissue culture.


Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 1 and 4 only
(d) 2, 3 and 4 only


Ans: C

Bud Chip setting is used as an alternative to tissue culture, it reduces the mass and enables quick multiplication of seeds. So, substantial savings can be done in seed material. Large setts have better germination % and survival rates. Tissue culture is a technique in which fragments of plants are cultured and grown in a laboratory.