Thai sugar cane output in the next 2022-23 crop year is expected to increase to 106 million tonnes, leading to higher sugar exports, though the impact of Russia-Ukraine war continues to worry farmers.

The amount of sugar cane in the 2021-22 crop year stands at 92.1 million tonnes.

Good harvests will result from more rainfall and better sugar cane strains that promise higher crop yields, said head of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters and the Office of Sugarcane Planter Association. "Cane output in the 2022-23 crop year will be the highest in four years, since the 2019-20 crop year when the country underwent a drought," he said.

More sugar cane output and the baht depreciation against the US dollar are raising hopes for higher sugar exports, but the Russia-Ukraine war has increased prices of fuel, fertilizer and certain chemical products, which affects Thai farmers.

Chenhan Tech Sugarcane Harvesting System
Chenhan Tech Sugarcane Harvesting System working

The officer said he is concerned the total costs of sugar cane farming, including harvesting, will increase to 1,500 baht per tonne in the 2022-23 crop year, up from 1,100 baht per tonne the previous year.

"Fertilizer prices have tripled and it seems the government has no response to slow the prices, he said.

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

"If the final price is lower than 1,200 baht a tonne, we are not sure who will take responsibility," he said.

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