Sugarcane and sugarbcet are the two most important sources from which sugar is extracted. These two crops grow under contrasting geographical conditions. Sugarcane is a tropical crop whereas sugarbeet grows in temperate countries.
Sugar industry is an agro based industry. Making of sugar has been carried on in the world since times immemorial. India is the accredited birth place of sugarcane and sugar. Prior to the manufacturing of present white sugar, gur and khandsari (desi Chini) making have been popular and quite common.
Till the later part of the 19th century, India was an important exporter of sugar to the world market, but with the emergence of Java Sugar Industry, in the beginning of20th century, India lost its position. Sugar is an important item of man’s diet. It has demand all over the world.
Sugar industry depends upon the following geographical factors for its location:
(i) It is an agro-based industry. Thus it is normally set up in the midst of sugarcane producing areas. It results in saving transportation cost.
(ii) Cane loses weight as time passes after it is cut. It must be taken to the mill and crushed at the earliest lest cane begins to dry and lose sucrose content.
As such, the industry must be located near the raw material or efficient means of transport must be developed for carrying cane to the mills at the earliest.
(iii) The industry requires capital and cheap labour.
India produces nearly 150 lakh tonnes of sugar. It contributes about 10% of the world production. Sugar industry is found in a number of Indian states. These are grouped into two belts. These are:
I. Northern Sugar Belt.
It comprises of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, UP, MP and Bihar. The industry in this belt has responded to:
(i) Flat lands of alluvial soils
(ii) Provision of irrigation
(iii) Suitable climate
(iv) Plenty of cheap labour
(v) Developed means of transport
The mills are in the following states and districts:
I.Punjab 13 mills Amritsar, Ludhiana, Sangrur, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Patiala, Ropar etc.
II. Haryana 8 mills Ambala, Karnal, Hissar, Panipat, Rohtak etc.
III. Rajasthan 5 mills Ganganagar, Udaipur, Bundi etc.
Iv. U.P. 110 mills Allahabad, Basti, Barabanki, Gorakhpur, Saharanpur, Meerut, Muzafarnagar, Gonda, Bijnore etc.
V.M.P. 5mills Morena, Gwalior, Shivpuri etc.
VI. Bihar 29 mills Darbhanga, Saran, Muzafarpur, Champaran etc.
VII. West Bengal Malda, Nadia, Burdhwan.
II. Southern Sugar Belt.
It embraces the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Ahmed Nagar, Sholapur, Pune, Satara, Kohlapur (Maharashtra), Surat, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Amreli, Junagarh (Gujarat), Shimoga, Bellary, Bijapur, Chittradurga (Karnataka), Coimbatore, South Arcot, North Arcot, Ambedkar, Triuchirapalli (Tamil Nadu), E and W Godavari, Krishna, Nizamabad, Vishakhapatnam, Chittoor, Medak (A.P).
The Indian Sugar Industry has certain handicaps:
I. Yield of sugarcane is less.
II. Crushing season is short.
III. Total yearly production keeps on fluctuating.
IV Cost of production of cane is high.
IV. Small and uneconomical mills.
V. Mill machinery in most of the cases is obsolete.
VII. Competition with Gur and Khandsari
VIII. Per capita consumption of sugar in India is low. It is 9-2 kg. In Japan it is 15-5 kg and in the USA it is 48-8 kg.