India is an agrarian economy. India is the home to almost every kind of crop grown in the world. Agriculture is the occupation of a majority of the Indian population. More than 60% of India’s land area is under agriculture.
Sugarcane is one of the most popular crops in India with more than 5 million hectares of land under cultivation. The average yield of sugarcane is more than 75000 kg/hectare with the total production exceeding 360 million tonnes in 2017-2018.
India’s climate is such that it suits the plantation of sugarcane throughout the year. This is one of the few perennial crops in the country. Some of the states such as Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have good irrigation facilities. A majority of the states in India depend on the rains. Unfortunately, the rains have not been satisfactory this year. This can have an effect on the total yield of sugarcane.
Sugarcane is a multipurpose crop. No part of the sugarcane goes waste. The primary use of the cane is the production of sugar. There are other by-products such as jaggery, molasses, and even paper. Molasses forms the base for an intoxicating drink as well. Except for Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, and the North Eastern states, every state produces sugarcane in some quantity.
We shall look at the top 10 largest sugarcane-producing states in India in 2018. We are submitting this data after taking into effect the drought like situation this year in parts of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Otherwise, there could have been a change in the rankings.
At one point in time, Uttarakhand was part of Uttar Pradesh. The southern parts of the state such as Dehradun and Udham Singh Nagar are some of the major sugarcane producing districts in the state. These districts were part of Uttar Pradesh in the not too recent past. This state has a total cultivation area of 1.2 lakh hectares. With an output of 6.4 million tonnes this hilly state in North India ranks 10th on this list.
Punjab, the land of Five Rivers, has some of the most fertile lands in the country, at par with Uttar Pradesh. Known for production of wheat and mustard, Punjab has many sugarcane fields as well. With many rivers like Sutlej flowing through Punjab, there is no shortage of water for this water-guzzling plant, sugarcane. With over 90,000 hectares of land under cultivation, the districts of Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Sangrur, and Patiala are the major sugarcane producing areas. An output of 6.6 million tonnes, Punjab comes at No 9.
Punjab and Haryana are literally twin states. In fact, they share the capital as well. Therefore, when Punjab makes a presence, can Haryana be far behind. In fact, Haryana is ahead of Punjab in this field. The districts of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Karnal, Sonepat, and Rohtak, all bordering Uttar Pradesh, are the major sugarcane producing areas with over 1.3 lakh hectares under cultivation. The total production of 9.3 million tonnes is the reason Haryana stands at No 8 in this list.
One can state that the overall area of these states is small. Otherwise, the fertile land in these areas is most conducive for the plantation of sugarcane.
Gujarat is an industrial state. More than 50% of Gujarat comprises of the Rann of Kutch. In spite of that, Gujarat accounts for about 3% of India’s production of sugarcane. The southern districts of Gujarat such as Valsad, Navsari, Surat, Bharuch, etc contribute the bulk of sugarcane production in the state. The Western districts of Bhavnagar and Junagadh are also major sugarcane producing areas. Gujarat has around 1.8 lakh hectares of sugarcane plantation. The output of around 9.5 million tonnes results in Gujarat ranking 7th in India as far as sugarcane production is concerned.
Bihar is a flood-prone state with the river Kosi usually overflowing its banks. This makes the plains of Bihar extremely fertile. Sugarcane is the major cash crop of Bihar with the main contributions coming from Patna, Darbhanga, Gaya, and Champaran districts. With a total area of 2.6 lakh hectares of sugarcane plantation and an output of 12.2 million tonnes, Bihar ranks No 6 in the list. Bihar has a large number of sugarcane and jaggery factories spread all over the state.
05. Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana):
The bifurcation of the state into Telangana and Seemandhara is a recent event. However, for the sake of sugarcane production we shall consider it as a single unit. Andhra Pradesh has black alluvial soil, perfect for the growth of sugarcane. The climate of Andhra is perfect as well. It has the rivers Krishna and Godavari flowing through as well. Hence, water is never a problem for the sugar belt in the Krishna and Godavari districts. With an output of around 14.9 million tonnes, Andhra Pradesh manages to stay in the top 5 in this exalted list.
Karnataka comes next on the list at No 4. Karnataka has the rivers Krishna and Cauvery flowing through the state. A couple of huge irrigation projects on the Cauvery River ensure that Karnataka has more than its share of the Cauvery water. This water is useful for the plantation of sugarcane in large numbers in the districts of Shimoga, Mysore, Belgaum, and Chitradurga. With a total sugarcane cultivable area of 4 lakh hectares, the output is around 34.6 million tonnes. Karnataka has the record of producing high-quality sugarcane with the yields touching 84 tonnes per hectare. The average yield in India is around 75 tonnes per hectare.
03. Tamil Nadu:
Tamil Nadu does not have many rivers. It has to depend on the Cauvery River that flows through Karnataka. The state does not get much rainfall either from the North East Monsoon winds. In spite of these drawbacks, Tamil Nadu holds the Indian record of producing 107 tonnes per hectare. In spite of having less area of land under sugarcane cultivation in comparison to Karnataka (2.3 lakh hectares as compared to 4 lakh hectares), the total output is around 37.5 million tonnes. Many parts of South Tamil Nadu have black alluvial soil, perfect for sugarcane plantation. Tamil Nadu is a worthy No 3 as far as sugarcane production in India is concerned.
Maharashtra should rank first in this list. However, a couple of years of continuous drought have brought down the yields considerably. Maharashtra depends on rainfall for the swelling of its rivers. The last two years of drought and the disputes between the sugar barons and the farmers over the pricing issue have made the farmers switch over to other crops including horticulture. However, Maharashtra has 9 lakh hectares of sugarcane cultivable land especially in the districts of Ahmednagar, Pune, Aurangabad, Satara, and Solapur. Maharashtra has many sugar mills owned by different politicians. The annual production this year was only 75.3 million tonnes whereby it stands at No 2 in the list today.
01. Uttar Pradesh:
Now, we shall come to biggest state in India, Uttar Pradesh. The river Ganga is a perennial river. Hence, there is no shortage of water at all for the plains of Uttar Pradesh. The districts of Meerut, Bareilly, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, and Bulandshahr are the major districts where farmers plant sugarcane. Uttar Pradesh has the largest cultivable land of around 21 lakh hectares. With an annual output of 133.3 million tonnes, Uttar Pradesh stands proudly at the top of the list.
If not for the drought, Maharashtra would have beaten Uttar Pradesh hands down. As far as yields are concerned, no state in the country comes near Tamil Nadu. Hence, in spite of adversity, these two states rank No 2 and No 3 respectively. The credit for the same should go to the fertile soil and the skill of the farmers.
Anyway, India holds the second rank in the world after Brazil as far as sugarcane production is concerned. If the weather gods and the politicians (Maharashtra issue) favor India, it will not take much time for it to overtake Brazil.