The country's sugar production is expected to be more than 22-23 million tonnes (mt) in the forthcoming 2010-11 crop year, starting next month, Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said on Friday.
Sugar production in India, the world's second-largest producer and the biggest consumer, is estimated at 18.8 mt in the current season, ending September 30.
"We will definitely be able to produce over 22-23 mt this year," Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on the rabi crop season.
However, according to industry body ISMA, the country's sugar production may reach 25.5 mt in 2010-11.
The sugar season runs from October to September.
Asked when the government plans to decontrol the sugar industry, Pawar said: "If we have to take any decision, we will definitely consult with the sugarcane-producing states and will start the process after assessing the total crop situation. I think it will take another 3-4 weeks maximum."
Early this month, the minister had made a presentation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for doing away with various controls on the sugar industry. This included giving freedom to mills for sale of sugar in the open market from next month.
He had also suggested that the Centre buy sugar from the open market for supply through ration shops.
The food ministry has decided to consider decontrol of the sector on expectations of bumper sugar output in the 2010-11 crop year, starting next month.
In addition, a decline in sugar prices by 40 per cent, to Rs 30 a kg at present, from nearly Rs 50 a kg in mid-January was also taken into account by the ministry while making the proposal.
At present, the sugar sector is under government control, from production till distribution.
The Centre fixes the quantity of sugar that mills can sell in the open market, as well as through ration shops.
Furthermore, mills are obligated to sell 20 per cent of their produce to the government, for supply through ration shops. It also fixes the minimum support price of sugarcane for farmers.
The minister said the government has also allowed the export of 5-6 lakh tonnes of imported raw sugar lying at ports.