Expect to pay more for your favourite mithai (sweet) in the coming festival season, or go without it. Sugar prices are expected to climb to Rs 40 per kg over the next few days, and will keep climbing, the way things are.
Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said on Tuesday that India would be starting the next sugar season — sugar follows its own cycle — with a wafer-thin stock position, which means India will be importing heavily.
And this imported sugar will cost around Rs 40 a kg — compared to Rs 30 now (the commonly available packaged sugar) — when it lands next season, more than double from a year earlier, according to Jayantilal B. Patel, president of the National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories.
But Pawar was optimistic. “It is expected that…steps (taken by government) would supplement the country’s availability of sugar during 2009-2010 as well as control the prices within reasonable limit,” he said.
Though he did not put a num-ber to the shortfall, it could be between 3.5 and 4 million tonnes, according to an official source. Private manufacturers said, on condition of anonymity, it could be even higher.
Hindustan Times had reported last week that India’s sugar stocks had hit rock bottom at about 4.5 million tonnes.
India is now shopping abroad, and being the world’s largest consumer of sugar, it pushed up raw sugar futures to a 28-year-high in the international commodities market.
In a later evening development, the government decided to supply 2 kg sugar extra to each below-poverty-line family in September.