New Delhi: Sugar mills have exported 33.49 lakh tonnes of sweetener so far in the current marketing year ending September, with help from government’s financial assistance, a trade association said on Thursday. Mills have contracted to export 42 lakh tonnes of sugar so far as against 60 the lakh tonnes quota assigned by Food Ministry, the All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA) said in a statement.

With five months still left for 2019-20 marketing year to end, the association feels the mills have the potential to fulfil their exports commitments.

Sugar marketing year runs from October to September.

According to AISTA, mills exported 33,49,132 tonnes of sugar from October 1, 2019 till May 4, 2020.

India exported sugar to 60 countries, but around 60 per cent of the total shipments were to Iran, Somalia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

The government has allowed export of 60 lakh tonnes of sugar under Maximum Admissible Export Quota (MAEQ) during 2019-20 marketing year to liquidate surplus sugar in global markets.

The country had exported 38 lakh tonnes of sugar during 2018-19 marketing year.

The Centre has also taken various steps to help sugar mills clear cane dues.

It has created buffer stocks of 40 lakh tonnes of sugar, costing Rs 1,674 crore to the exchequer.

Besides, assistance of Rs 6,268 crore is being provided to help mills export 60 lakh tonnes of sugar.

The government is also encouraging diversion of excess sugarcane and sugar to produce ethanol for blending with petrol.

According to the Food Ministry, sugar production is estimated at 273 lakh tonnes in 2019-20 as against domestic consumption of 260 lakh tonnes.

In the previous year, sugar output was 331 lakh tonnes as compared to 259 lakh tonnes domestic demand.

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