1. Sugar Mills: Nature of Raw material
  2. Indian Sugar Mills: Location factors
    1. Sugar Mills: Maharashtra
    2. Sugar Mills: Uttar Pradesh
    3. North Vs South India
  3. Cuba, the Sugar bowl
  4. Sugar beet
  5. Banana Plantations

In the previous article, we discuss the geographical factors affecting the location of rubber plantations, now let’s move to the next topic:

Sugar Mills: Nature of Raw material

Sugar mills are located near sugar growing areas, because of two factors

  • sugarcane = contains sucrose
  • Once you cut the sugarcane, the sucrose content starts to decline. Hence raw material must be quickly transported.
Weight loss
  • sugar accounts for only ~10% of the bulky sugarcane and therefore it is prohibitively expensive to transport sugarcane over long-distance in its original form.

Sugar Mill and sugar refinery of two separate location principles

Sugar mill Sugar refinery
Input sugarcane raw Coarse brown sugar (from sugar mill)
  • Sugarcane is crushed between rollers=sugar juice.
  • Sugar juice+lime=boiling and crystallization.
  • raw sugar is refined
  1. raw coarse brown sugar= need further refining
  2. bagasse => fodder, energy, paper-pulp industry,
  3. molasses=> ethanol
Brown and white sugars of various grades.
Must be located near sugar-farming areas because sugarcane being bulky-perishable. e.g. in Uttar Pradesh, Maharahstra, South Gujarat.
  • In countries like Japan (which rely on imports), the sugar refineries are setup @ports or near market centers.

Let’s examine the factors that led to growth Desi-videsi sugar industries

Indian Sugar Mills: Location factors

Limiting factor=proximity to raw material. So sugar mills are located in 30-50 kms radius of sugar-cultivating areas.

(list non-exhaustive)
State Location
  • Western Maharashtra’s river valleys
  • Sangli, Solapur, Satara
  • Ahmednagar, Pune, Nasik
Uttar Pradesh
  • Western UP and Terai region
  • Meerut, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar
  • Sitapur, Gorakhpur, Sharanpur
  • Coimbtore, Tiruchirapalli
  • Chitradurg, Shimoga
  • Bijaipur, Belagaum, Bellary
  • Hyderabad, Nizamabad

Sugar mills: Maharashtra

factor impact
  • For sugar, warmer climate=better yield=> Maharashtra grows thicker variety of sugarcane.
  • Proximity to Ocean=the difference between minimum and maximum temp. During crop-maturity months=very low=>increases sugar yield.
  • sugar crushing season is longer
  • Black lava soil=fertile + retains water=>good for growth.
  • Mills use bagasse as fuel (recall Bagasse cogeneration) = don’t need coal.
  • Mumbai Port = helps in export.
  • available

Sugar: Uttar Pradesh

factor impact
  • potash-lime in soil=helps in growth.
  • upper gangetic plain=rich fertile.
water Ganga, Yamuna and their numerous tributaries
energy use bagasse instead of coal for energy.
transport Dense road-network, flat terrain =easy transport.
labor Seasonal and migratory labour available=cost of production low.
market large population=> high demand for gur, khandsari, sugar.
govt. sugar pricing=covered in a separate article. click me

Factor: North India vs South

  1. In South India: No loo, no frost+ moderating effect of ocean=ideal for sugarcane growth.
  2. But the sugarcane cultivate/industry in South India is not as large as UP-Maharashtra belt, Why?
    1. During British-raj, North India used to cultivate indigo as cash crop but then invention of synthetic dyes=>farmers switched to sugarcane.
    2. In South India, farmers have better cash-crop alternatives e.g. cotton, tobacco, coconut, groundnut etc. so you don’t see a large sugarbelt unlike UP.

Ratooning technology

  • developed by Research insti. @Coimbatore
  • ratoon crop= during harvest, you don’t uproot sugarcane, leave the root intact => sugarcane grows again from that root.
  • Advantage: time, money saved.
  • challenge: sugar-yield decreases on every cycle, after 1-2 years, you need to start fresh.

Why Cuba is called the sugar-bowl of World?

factor impact
  • Hot climate, the north east trade winds= increase sugar yield.
sugarcane Fertile calcareous soil= Crops are obtained twice a year.
  • Large influx of American capital after the Spanish American war helped sugar industry of Cuba.
  • WW1 destroyed the farms in Europe, = Americans had to rely more on Cuban Sugar= prices soared, Americans invested more money in Cuban mills and bought more area under sugar cultivation.
  • Cuba faces the USA (the greatest sugar market in the world)
  • not very far off from the north west European countries
labor Initially started using slave labor.
govt. policy
  • Until Fidel Castro took over in 1959, the main export market was USA, but afterwards most of the sugar was exported to USSR and other communist countries.
  • Castro confiscated the American owned plantation and Estates, and redistributed land among workers = smaller landholdings= economy of scale declined=>unit production cost got higher.
  • So, later he organized cooperative and Sugar collectives. (like we saw in earlier in Rice: China)

Now passing references

  • sugar is grown in Louisiana and Hawaii
  • but industry is highly mechanized because lack of labour
Mauritius, Fiji sugarcane Grown with help of indentured labour from India.

Sugar beet

  • German-climate unsuitable for sugar-cultivation.
  • They had to rely on imports=sugar-shortage during wartime.
  • Therefore, Germans developed a method to extract Sugar from sugar beet, and encouraged the cultivation of sugar beet for the strategic reasons of self reliance during war-time.
  • Later industry spread in Belgium and France as well.
  • In European countries, cool autumn retains the sugar content in root= higher yields.
  • Sugar juice makes up to 20% of the root= significant weightloss. Therefore, just like sugarcane, sugar beet must be processed quickly at nearby factories
  • But sugarbeet Factories cannot be fed consistently and only operate during the harvest season= increases cost of running.

Banana Plantations

Just passing reference

  • fruit ripens very quickly.
  • without refrigerated boats, impossible to ship product from tropics to US/EU market.
  • banana producing regions nearest to major markets have trade advantage. e.g.  Caribbean islands

In the next article, we will discuss the geographical factors affecting the location of tea and coffee plantations.