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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

the sweet thing - SUGAR TRANSPORTATION

Dear (s)

Sugar – ‘the sweet thing’ would need no detailed description. Human taste buds interpret its flavour as sweet. Sugar as a basic food carbohydrate primarily comes from sugar cane. Sugar is a class of edible crystalline substances, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose. The English word "sugar" originates from the Arabic and Persian word shakar, and has its equivalent ‘sharkara’ in Sanskrit.

After tur dal, it’s the turn of sugar. There is spiralling price rice and the stocks of the sugar companies are in great demand in the Exchanges as Investors expect the retail sugar prices to gain further gain as there reportedly is a five million tonne gap between production and demand. Statistically, Sugar production has been pegged at 16-17 million tonnes in 2009-10 against 26.4 mt last year. The annual demand is about 22.5 mt. Internationally, it is projected that price of raw sugar would hit a 28 year high.
The Union Government recently allowed private traders to import refined sugar at zero duty, which was so far restricted to public sector trading firms such as STC, MMTC and PEC. However, the 10-lakh-tonne quantitative restriction on import still remains. The Govt regulates duty free import of refined or white sugar to be done only through Electronic Data Inter-change (EDI) ports.
There is some marine news connected to the present sugar crisis, which would make this article interesting.
There was hectic activity in Indian coastal waters with North Korean ship MV Mu San detained off Andaman and Nicobar islands after a six hour long chase by the Indian Coastguard. This vessel had dropped anchor without permission near Hut Bay Island and tried to escape when approached, finally succumbing after shots were fired in air.
MV Mu San dropped anchor without permission near Hut Bay island. Since the ship was trying to escape when approached the coastguard was forced to fire in the air. The ship's captain, told the investigators that the ship had made an impromptu change in schedule to take the cargo to Kakinada, though it is not often that merchant vessels do this.
The vessel had sets its sail from Thailand on July 27 with 16500 tonnes of sugar and it is now revealed that subsequent to the Govt. announcement on import of sugar at zero duty, the charterer had instructed the Capt. To divert the vessel to Andhra but not before Aug 5 offering huge money for the act. Unable to slow down any further the vessel had dropped anchor at Hut Bay and was spotted by a Ferry Passenger ship. Thus it was not a mechanical snag or a navigational mistake but the lure of sweetness of sugar and that consignment reached only after the zero duty came in to effect.
In another unrelated maritime incident, the Greek-owned, Panamanian-registered bulk carrier "Ioannis NK" (14,498-gt, built 1977, IMO 7700946) took water and sank approx 95 NM off Lamberts Bay, northwest of Saldanha Bay. This bulker owned by Agios Fanourios Shipping and managed by Seabound Maritime of Piraeus was carrying 22500 tonnes of sugar loaded in Brazil bound for India. The efforts of salvage tug ‘Smit Amandla’ proved futile.

There are clouds over the sinking – all the crew were picked up and there questions on the seaworthiness of the vessel. The class certificates of this 32 year old vessel were due to expire on Aug 16 by which time, vessel would still have been at sea. The consignee and Insurance details were not known and there are strong possibilities of the same being insured in India.
Across the border, the Pak Govt had also allowed import of raw sugar into the country - a whooping 300000 tons to mitigate the impact of crisis ahead of Ramadan, which poses a serious political challenge as Politicians own sugar mills there !

Look forward to your feedback
With regards
S Sampathkumar
E : s.sampathkumar @ M : 99400 86033

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