India faces massive delay in sugar crop harvest due to COVID

These harvest delays would further result in Indian mills producing sugar more slowly at a time

Image source: Shutterstock

Image source: Shutterstock

With the increasing spread of coronavirus worldwide, millions of migrant workers needed for the harvest have been scared to travel anywhere; which has led to the potential delay in the harvest of sugarcane crops.

Relying on migrant workers to travel across the nation could become a major factor for the harvest delays. These harvest delays would further result in Indian mills producing sugar more slowly at a time when Brazilian sugar production will be winding down and large producer Thailand is harvesting its smallest crop in 10 years, reducing the availability of sugar in the global market.

B B Thombare, president of the West Indian Sugar Mills Association (WISMA), said “We are anticipating some delays at the beginning of the season. Many things depend on how much work is available at the local level and the spread of coronavirus in October.”

According to the government, mechanization accounts only for about 5% of the work in a nation that employs nearly 50 million sugarcane farmers and 700 factories. India, that produces 370 million tonnes of cane annually is the second most worldwide behind Brazil.

The larger mechanization of Brazil has helped it cope with the pandemic and keep its cane harvest. Whereas in India most of the cane farming is done manually in very small areas.

Sugar mills have been approaching cane harvester producers like CNH industrial to add machines before the start of the crushing season in October.

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