To handle excess sugar judiciously, factories have been encouraged by the government to convert extra sugar cane into ethanol that is mixed with gasoline. Subsequently, in the last two sugar seasons of 2018-19 and 2019-20, approximately 3.37 lakh metric tons and 9.26 lakh metric tons of sugar have been diverted to ethanol.
In the current 2020-21 sugar season, more than 20 lakh metric tons of the sweetener is expected to be diverted. In the following 2021-22 sugar season, it is estimated that about 35 lakh metric tons of sugar will be diverted, while by 2024-25, about 60 lakh metric tons of sugar will be diverted to ethanol, official sources said.
This will help address the problem of excess sugar cane and the problems of delayed payments as farmers will receive payments on time, a statement from the Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs said.
But since the adequate distillation capacity for ethanol would not be added until 2024-25, sugar exports will continue for another two to three years.
Mixing ethanol with gasoline not only serves as a green fuel, but also helps to save a lot of foreign exchange.
The income from the sale of ethanol by factories also helps sugar factories to clear the cane price from farmers.