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MUMBAI: India's sugar production could fall by 18% in 2019/20 as last year's drought forced farmers to curtail their sugar cane plantings while lower monsoon rains this year are limiting the crop's growth, a senior industry official said.

The lower production could help India to reduced stockpiles that have risen because of two years of record production and lower-than-expected exports. India is the world's largest sugar consumer and the second-largest producer of the sweetener.

India's sugar production during the 2019/20 marketing year starting from Oct. 1 could fall to 27 million tonnes from 33 million tonnes in 2018/19, said B. B. Thombare, president of the Western India Sugar Mills Association (WISMA) on Tuesday.

"Cane plantation in Maharashtra and Karnataka is hit badly due to last year's drought and this year's delay in arrival of monsoon rains," he said.

The western state of Maharashtra is the country's second-biggest sugar producer, while the southern state of Karnataka ranks third. Uttar Pradesh is the biggest producing state.

Maharashtra's production could fall 44% to 6 million tonnes in the next season, he said.

India has received rain that is 19% less than average since the monsoon season began on June 1, after last year's drought wilted crops in western and southern India.

Copyright Reuters, 2019