India's sugar output could rise nearly 3.5% from previous forecastIndia's sugar output could rise nearly 3.5% from previous forecast
A farmer works in his sugarcane field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s sugar output is expected to rise nearly 1.89% this year from a previous forecast as the country-wide lockdown to stem the spread of the new coronavirus has led to the closure of small jaggery making units, diverting more cane to sugar mills.

Mills in India, the world’s biggest sugar producer, are likely to churn out around 27 million tonnes of the sweetener in the current season that began on Oct. 1, 2019, up from the previous forecast of 26.5 million tonnes, the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said in a statement.

Between Oct. 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, Indian sugar mills produced 26.8 million tonnes of the sweetener against 32.7 million tonnes churned out during the year-ago period, the ISMA said.

Indian sugar mills start crushing cane in October, when the new season begins, and production starts tapering down after April.

Currently, only 18 sugar mills are crushing cane, ISMA said.

(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj, editing by Louise Heavens)