The sugarcane industry in Mauritius is a critical revenue generator for the economy of the Country and the history of the sugar industry in Mauritius dates to the last few years of the 17th century. Presently, the sugarcane production in Mauritius is estimated to be almost 6 million tons annually. The sugarcane plantation in Mauritius has spread a massive area covering over 65,000 hectares that constitutes about 85% of the agricultural land of the country. The sugarcane industry in Mauritius has been gaining vital prominence since the evolution of sugar industry in Mauritius in the 1960’s and has now emerged as a highly competitive market for the country. According to the Mauritius Sugarcane Industry Research Institute (MSIRI), over 500,000 tons of sugar is manufactured by the total list of sugar factories in Mauritius every year. The sugarcane production in Mauritius has been expanding rapidly over the past few years and accounts for a significant share of power and electricity generation in the country. Most of the sugar mills in the list of sugar factories in Mauritius generate around 30 kWh surplus electricity per ton of sugarcane byproducts such as wet bagasse and dried fibers.
The evolution of sugar industry in Mauritius has developed the sugar factories in Mauritius and during the crop season, most of the sugar mills supply surplus electricity to the power grid in the country. Also, the history of the sugar industry in Mauritius suggest that the sugar was manufactured here for the first time by the Dutch settlers in 1696 on an experimental basis to make arrack, an alcoholic beverage which is derived as a by-product when making sugar. Sugar is considered the 172nd most commonly traded commodity in the world and has been produced across the globe for almost a thousand years across the Indian sub-continent and China.
The Government of Malaysia is focusing on increasing the sugarcane production in Malaysia by allocating further 5,000 hectares of agricultural land for sugarcane plantation in Mauritius. A recent business journal published by the Mauritius Cane Industry Authority (MCIA) reveals that around 380,000 tons of sugar were exported to the EU in 2017, 80,000 tons to the US, and the remaining 40,000 tons accounted for the domestic sugar consumption for the same year. It is estimated that the sugarcane industry in Mauritius contributes around 20% of the total foreign exchange revenue and generates employed for almost 8% of the total working population in Mauritius. However, if we analyze the history of the sugar industry in Mauritius, the present contribution of the sugar mills in Mauritius to the national GDP is relatively lower at 6% compared to over 20% in the 1970’s due to the diversification of many sugar factories towards manufacturing of other products like textiles and garments. Approximately, almost 2 million tons of bagasse is derived as a by-product every year which accounts for around one-third of the total sugarcane production and this dry byproduct is burned using coal to generate power for the sugar manufacturing process in Mauritius.
As most of the sugar mills end up producing additional power during the crop season, they boost the capacity of the power grids in Mauritius which is also likely to help bolster the sugarcane industry in Mauritius in the next few years. The largest export market for sugarcane production in Mauritius is EU, followed by the US. Sugarcane plantation in Mauritius is regaining prominence after a decade of lesser production due to drought and fluctuating demand from international markets.
At the peaking history of sugarcane industry in Mauritius, there were estimated to be around 260 sugar mills in Mauritius in the 1830’s during the French and British colonization period. Today, the existing list of sugar factories in Mauritius has 11 names who collectively have a sugarcane crushing capacity of around 3700 tons per day. Sugarcane production in Mauritius has the highest manufacturing cost across the world due to a short-spanned season for milling and a high ratio of 80% for field laborers. Also, since the evolution of sugar industry in Mauritius, the sugar mills in Mauritius operate on a sustainable energy base by utilizing the sugarcane byproduct, bagasse as a bio-fuel to power the sugar processing facilities.
The global sugar industry was forecasted to grow by a CAGR of almost 7% to reach a projected annual production volume of 187 million tons by the beginning of 2018, with a demand surplus of about 6 million tons in comparison to the deficit of 8 million tons in the previous year. The rate of growth for global consumption of sugar rose by 1.2% and the rise in production worldwide is attributed to increased production from countries like Brazil, India, EU, Thailand, and South Africa. The Asia Pacific is estimated to be the largest sugar producing region across the world. Brazil is the largest producer of sugarcane in terms of the country at an annual volume of over 730 million metric tons in 2017. Also, the production of sugar in Brazil for 2017 amounted to almost 38 million tons and is expected to grow by a CAGR of around 5% over the next five years. India is the second largest producer of sugar with an output of about 28 million tons at the end of 2017.
The top 5 sugar exporting nations in terms of revenue are Brazil ($2.2 billion), India ($1.4 billion), Thailand ($1.25 billion), Myanmar ($1.07 billion), and France ($865 billion). The largest sugar importers based on the country are China ($1.3 billion), Myanmar ($1.2 billion), Italy ($680 million), the US ($495 billion), and Sudan ($410 billion). The sugarcane industry in Mauritius has been a flourishing industry in the past century and the sugarcane production in Mauritius is forecasted to grow significantly over the course of the next five years. Government-owned bodies like Mauritius Sugarcane Industry Research Institute and the Mauritius Cane Industry Authority have taken several initiatives to increase the area for sugarcane plantation Mauritius. Also, the initiatives that have been rolled out are aimed at overcoming the challenges faced by the sugarcane industry in Mauritius such as around 35,000 hectares of land for sugarcane plantation in Mauritius on a rocky terrain which require de-rocking to prepare for cultivation and improve the yield quality.
In addition, various are being taken to ensure adequate irrigation for a sugar plantation in Mauritius as droughts are common during the crop season which might end up affecting the sugarcane production in Mauritius in an adverse manner. An irrigation project was launched by the Government to facilitate water irrigation for almost 24,000 hectares of land for sugarcane plantation in Mauritius. The sugarcane industry in Mauritius is also adopting new technology and advanced machinery to process sugar and improve on the efficiency of sugar production in Mauritius. Within the next five years, the sugarcane industry in Mauritius is forecasted to reach an annual production capacity of more 7.5 million tons and more than 700,000 tons of processed sugar to be exported to various countries in the European Union and the US.