One of India's top sugar-production regions may see a decline in output of 29-35 percent because of drought conditions, the Times of India reported Saturday. The expected steep drop in output in Maharashtra state comes as dry conditions have left millions of people without access to a steady water supply.
The state in western India, where Mumbai is the capital, has seen sugar production fall sharply in the last two years. It had its highest-ever product level at 105 lakh tons in the 2014-15 season. But for the following season, Maharashtra produced 85 lakh tons, a decrease of 19 percent.
Only 177 of Maharashtra’s 236 sugar factories operated last season, and the number could drop this year if forecasts are accurate. That means even less work for farmers in the region.
For the 2016-17 season, the region may produce only 55-60 lakh tons as it experiences one of its worst droughts of recent decades. Last year, rainfall was half its normal amount. A clearer estimate will not be known until June, when the nine-month planting season begins. “We are hoping for pre-seasonal showers," Vipin Sharma, the state sugar commissioner, told the Times of India.
Meanwhile, it’s not just the farmers who are suffering during the drought. Around 330 million people do not have access to a steady water supply. Water is being shipped to the region but may not be enough. Al Jazeera reported some households are receiving 50 liters every eight days while others are bringing in 200.
Factors require significantly more water. About 2,500 liters of water is needed to irrigate one kilogram of sugar. At least 2,500,000 liters of water is needed for one factory to operate for one day, Pradeep Purandare, formerly of the Marathwada Development Board, estimated to Times of India.