With 5 crore people suffering from Type-2 diabetes, India is now slowly reducing its sugar consumption and becoming more health conscious.
Statistics from the National Federation of Sugar Factories Ltd (NFSFL) show that there has been a drop of at least 2 kg in individual sugar consumption per year.
In 2014-15, while India’s sugar consumption was 20.5 kg per person, it dropped to 18.5 kg in 2017-18. Of the 32 million tonnes we produced this year, we consumed about 25 million tonnes.
According to an analyst, apart from the increased production, another reason why a substantial amount of stock remained unsold is that Indians are changing their eating habits.
However, sugarcane continues to be a politically sensitive crop in India. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra – the largest producers of sugar – also contribute the highest number of Lok Sabha seats. Together, the two elect 128 of the total 543 MPs. And that is probably why the Centre last month announced a Rs 5,500 crore package to overcome the glut in the sugar industry.
In Maharashtra too, around 30 lakh farmers are engaged in sugarcane cultivation. And in the last Congress-NCP government, of the total 30 cabinet ministers, at least 11 controlled one or more sugar cooperatives or private factories in their respective districts.
Though the sugar lobby is not that powerful in the present BJP-Sena government, 5 ministers continue to have some stake in sugar.
Sanjay Khatal, managing director, Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation Ltd, said, “In absolute terms, there is no decline, but it is not increasing in proportion with the increase in population.”