January 3, 2017 / 12:42 PM / 8 months ago

Sugar mills shut early as drought hits cane crop - trade body

A farmers uses a machete to cut sugarcane as he harvests a field outside Gove village in Satara district, about 260km (161 miles) south of Mumbai May 10, 2011.Vivek Prakash/Files

MUMBAI (Reuters) - More than two dozen mills in India's top sugar producing Maharashtra state have stopped crushing due to cane shortage while many more mills are likely to shut before February end, a producers' body said on Tuesday.

Sugar mills in Maharashtra typically operate between November to April, but this year cane supplies have fallen due to back-to-back droughts.

Out of 147 sugar mills that started operations this year, 25 mills have stopped crushing as on Dec. 31, Indian Sugar Mills Association said in a statement.

The country produced 8.09 million tonnes of the sweetener between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 0.4 percent higher than a year earlier, as crushing began few weeks earlier, it said.

The world's biggest consumer is likely to produce 23.4 million tonnes of sugar in 2016/17, down about 7 percent from a year ago as back-to-back droughts ravaged the cane crop.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Vyas Mohan

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