Sugar producers optimistic about export prospects

Sugarcane production is expected to increase to 106 million tonnes this year.

Thai sugar cane production in the next crop year 2022-23 is expected to rise to 106 million tonnes, leading to an increase in sugar exports, although the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war continues to worry farmers .

The quantity of sugar cane for the 2021-22 campaign amounts to 92.1 million tons.

Good harvests will result from more rainfall and better strains of sugar cane that promise higher yields, said Narathip Anantasuk, head of the National Federation of Sugar Cane Planters and head of the Zone 7 Bureau of the Association of sugar cane growers.

“Cane production in the 2022-23 campaign will be the highest in four years, since the 2019-20 campaign, when the country suffered a drought,” he said.

Rising sugar cane production and the depreciation of the baht against the U.S. dollar raise hopes of increased sugar exports, but the Russian-Ukrainian war has pushed up the prices of fuel, fertilizers and of certain chemicals, which affects Thai farmers.

Mr Narathip expressed concern that the total costs of growing sugar cane, including harvesting, will rise to 1,500 baht per tonne in the 2022-23 crop year from 1,100 baht per ton the previous year.

“Fertilizer prices have tripled and it looks like the government has no answer to slow prices down,” he said.

Mr Narathip is also concerned about the prices of cane sold to sugar mills in the 2022-23 campaign.

The sugar mills have announced that they will buy crops at a guaranteed price of at least 1,200 baht per ton, but the final price will be determined by the Office of the Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB). The OCSB approved an initial price for the cane with a commercial cane sugar sweetness level of 10 to 1,070 baht per ton, with the final price to be determined later.

“If the final price is less than 1,200 baht per ton, we don’t know who will bear the responsibility,” he said.

The government said earlier it would pay sugar cane growers an additional 120 baht per ton to harvest fresh cane without burning it as part of a state effort to reduce air pollution.

Rachel J. Bradford