Sugar Industry in India

Sugar in India is produced mainly from sugarcane. After cotton textile industry, it is second largest industry in India. India is the world’s largest producer of sugarcane and second largest producer of sugar after Brazil. India is the only country in the world that produces plantation white sugar.

The sugar industry in India is based on sugar cane which is raw material, of low value, losing weight and perishable. Sugar cane can’t be stored for a long time because the loss of sucrose content is unavoidable. In addition, long distances transportation is not possible as any increase in transport costs would increase the cost of production and sugar cane could dry up en route. Therefore, the sugar industry in India is found in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, etc., which are the main regions of sugar cane production.

The sweets of Maharashtra are larger than those of other regions of the country. Uttar Pradesh has more plants than Maharashtra, but their size is relatively smaller and their production is lower. Tamil Nadu has become the third largest producer of sugar, contributing over 9% of India’s total sugar production. Other producers include Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam.

The sugar industries are found deeper in southern India than in northern India because it has better modern machinery to produce sugar, the tropical climate of southern India favors higher yields and therefore the sugar content is obtained. Cooperative sugar factories are better managed and the crushing season is also very long.

Process of Sugar

The stick is first squashed, blended in with water, and squashed between the rollers to remove the juice.

The extracted or clear juice is evaporated to a syrup stage, bleached with sulfur dioxide, and then sent to vacuum vessels for concentration and formation of additional sugar grains.

The crystals develop to the desired size and the crystallized mass is deposited in the crystallizers to exhaust the mother liquor of its sugar as much as possible. This is centrifuged to separate the crystals from the molasses. The molasses is boiled again for subsequent crystallization.

Therefore, the original syrup is gradually removed (usually three times) until a viscous liquid is finally obtained from which the sugar can no longer be economically recovered.

This fluid, called last molasses, is sent to the refinery for the creation of liquor.

The sugar subsequently isolated from the molasses in the axis is dried, packed away gauged, and sent to stockrooms.

Sugar is made in different sizes and is therefore classified into different categories, that is, large, medium and small.

Granulated white sugar continues in a refinery where it is combined with natural minerals to remove impurities. Wash, filter over charcoal and remove all sugar-free ingredients. Refined sugar is made into granules, dried, and packaged.

Issues Related to Sugar Industry

Productivity issues

1. The sugarcane monoculture, i.e. the lack of crop rotation in certain regions, leads to the depletion of nutrients in the soil and negatively affects the productivity of the cane.

2. Post-harvest deterioration in cane quality due to stale and delayed grinding contributes to poor sugar recovery.

3. Irregularity in the availability of water is another major problem in the cultivation of sugarcane crops. As many states have enough irrigation facilities with the regular rainy season while others have poor irrigation facilities with a uniform rainy season.

4. The insufficient availability of quality seeds of new varieties of sugar cane and the low replacement rate of seeds are hampering the realization of the potential yield of cane varieties.

5. A further reduction in the yield of sugar cane due to the increase in temperature is important.

• The average yield of sugar cane is only around 50 tonnes / hectare, which is much less compared to other countries such as 70 tonnes / hectare in Brazil or 100 tonnes / hectare in Hawaii.

• The small crushing season lasts only 4 to 6 months, especially in the north of India due to a lower availability of water or the presence of frost, etc.

• Political ownership or their significant share in cooperative sugar factories leads to late payments to farmers. Corruption due to political ownership also leads to higher prices and low productivity in sugar factories.


The major regulatory collapse in the sugar sector occurred in 1998, when the compulsory license requirement for new sugar factories was removed. This deregulation contributed to the growth of installed capacity with an annual range of more than 7% compared to the previous growth rate of 3%. Deregulation paved the way for a structural transformation of the sugar industry until 1998, when cooperatives dominated the industry, but in 2012 the private sector became dominant.

The deregulation of 1998 was just one step towards improving and competing in the Indian sugar industry. However, the sugar industry is faced with numerous regulations which have slowed down the growth of the sugar industry, and production fluctuations have become significant in recent years. The main regulatory issues that prohibit the growth of the sugar sector as well as the Rangarajan Committee are as follows:

• Sugar cane reservation zone: The government has specified a sugar cane reservation zone under which farmers must sell their products to a particular sugar factory and the factory owner must not buy sugar cane than to these farmers. This reduces farmers’ bargaining power to get a better price. The mill owner must depend on farmers in the cane reservation area for cane supply and in case of low sugar cane production in the cane reserve area, the mill owner has no other option.

The Rangarajan Committee proposed that States encourage the development of long-term market-based contractual arrangements and the phasing out of the sugar cane reservation and bonding area.

• Minimum distance criterion: To guarantee a decent supply of sugar cane to each sugar refinery, the central government has prescribed a minimum radial distance of 15 km / b for two sugar factories. But this criterion contributes to creating the monopoly of the owner of the factory over a large area because the radial distance of 15 km is important and ultimately led to the exploitation of farmers, especially when the land ownership is smaller. This regulation also prohibits innovation and investment by entrepreneurs.

Major Organizations are:

Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA)

All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA)

National Sugar Institute (NSI)

The Sugar Technologists Association of India