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[Representational Image] India saw a 40 percent increase in farmer suicides between 2014 and 2015 with the state of Karnataka showing the sharpest spike from 321 in 2014 to more than 1,300 in 2015.Reuters file

Sugar production in India fell about 8 percent during the period October 2015-April 2016 due to a sharp fall in crushing activity. The country produced 24.3 million tonnes during the period, 2.1 million tonnes less than 26.5 million tonnes during the corresponding period in the previous year. 

"Till 15th April 2016, 243.44 lakh tons of sugar has been produced by sugar mills during the current sugar season. This is about 21.24 lakh tons less than the sugar produced upto the same corresponding period last year when 264.68 lakh tons of sugar was produced," industry body Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said in a statement.

The number of sugar mills operating reduced sharply over a 12-month period, to 117 as on April 15, 2016, from 245 mills as on April 15, 2015, ISMA added.

Crop year for sugar in India ends in September.

Maharashtra was the top producer at 8.36 million tonnes, lower by 1.6 million tonnes compared to the year-ago period (October-April). The number of mills in the drought-hit state stood at 24 as on April 15 this year from 84 crushing mills on April 15, 2015.

Uttar Pradesh produced 6.77 millon tonnes, followed by Karnataka at 4 million tonnes. Other sugar-producing states include Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Arrears to sugarcane farmers dropped by 63.91 percent to Rs. 13,300 crore as on April 12, 2016, from Rs. 21,800 crore as on April 12 last year, according to ISMA. 

It was attributed primarily to improvement in sugar prices during the past few months, to about Rs. 33 currently from Rs. 19 per kg ex-factory realisation price in August 2015, Business Standard reported.

"With improvement in price, it is expected that cane price payments to farmers will improve, for arrears to come down substantially further," the daily quoted Abinash Verma, director-general of ISMA, as saying. 

Shree Renuka Sugars, EID Parry (India), Balrampur Chini Mills, Bajaj Hindusthan Sugar, Bannari Amman Sugars, Dhampur Sugar Mills, Sakthi Sugars, Dwarikesh Sugar Industries and DCM Shriram Industries are some of the listed sugar companies in India.

India is the world's second-biggest sugar producer and largest consumer.

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