Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Monday said that the government will decide on imposing duty on sugar imports before the beginning of the next crop year in October, after assessing cane availability and likely production.
"We will take a decision in August-September before the start of the next sugar season when we get complete picture of the cane availability," Pawar told reporters here when asked about whether the government would impose import duty on the sugar.
Sugar year runs from October-September.
Last month, an empowered group of ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had deferred a decision to impose 15 per cent duty on white sugar due to high inflation.
"In my opinion, the execution of import duty should be from next season," Pawar said.
With higher production than estimated in the current season and better outlook for 2010-11 season, the industry has been demanding imposition of import duty on white/refined sugar to protect the interest of local mills and check sliding prices.
Retail prices have fallen to Rs 32 a kg in the national capital from nearly Rs 50 a kg in mid-January.
According to the Agriculture Ministry data, sugarcane acreage stood at 47.37 lakh hectare till July 1 this season against 41.79 lakh hectare in the same period a year ago.
Based on the feedback from cane commissioners in all the sugar producing states, the food ministry had recently said that country's sugar production in 2010-11 would be 23 million tonnes, equal to the annual domestic demand.
Sugar production in India, the world's second largest producer and the biggest consumer, is estimated at 18.8 million tonnes in the current season ending September.
India has already imported over 6 million tonnes of sugar since February to meet the deficit.
At the start of the season (October 2009), industry had projected an output of 16 million tonnes in 2009-10.