Charting the future of India’s sugar industry

BY DEEPAYAN DEBNATH AND SURESH BABU

India’s domestic sugar market is in the doldrums, as the international market price of sugar has been falling. With general elections coming up in 2019, managing sugar markets and balancing the interests of sugar millers and sugarcane producers is a serious policy challenge for India’s government. Higher sugarcane production in the 2017-18 crop year has only made the problem more complex. As with many so-called political commodities, the fate of the current government may depend on how it handles this policy issue—particularly given the distressing trend of rising numbers of sugarcane farmers committing suicide due to difficult economic conditions. In Uttar Pradesh, for example, a total of $1.8 billion remained unpaid to sugarcane farmers as of mid-May.

Photo credit: International Labour Organization