NANNING, July 26 -- Rammasun, the strongest typhoon to strike south China in four decades, may cause reduced sugar output as the storm lashes the country's leading sugar producer.
Chongzuo, a city close to Vietnam in west Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, saw more than half of its sugarcane crops slashed by Rammasun.
Chongzuo produces one-fifth of the country's sugar and one-third of the sugar from Guangxi. Sugarcane is the city's pillar industry and main source of income for local farmers.
Local authorities estimated that sugarcane output could be reduced by one million tonnes, leading to economic losses of 630 million yuan (100.9 million U.S. dollars) for the industry.
China aims to increase its annual sugar output to 16 million tonnes, according to the Twelfth Five-Year plan (2011-2015) for China's sugar industry by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
China produced 11.76 million tonnes of sugar each year on average from 2006 to 2010. Average annual consumption of sugar per capita in China was 10.6 kg (23.4 lbs) during the period, less than half of the world average, which was 24.5 kg (54 lbs), according to the MIIT plan.
In the plan, which was issued in 2012, MIIT said China's sugar industry is not competitive due to insufficient agricultural infrastructure. Most sugarcane was planted in hilly areas where large farming machines are not able to function. Increased imports of cheap sugar have made the situation even worse for China's sugar industry and farmers.
Guangxi, the biggest sugar producer in the country, saw deficits of more than 1.5 billion yuan (240 million U.S. dollars) in its sugar industry during the 2012-13 growing season.
MIIT called for strengthened production and sales restrictions on chemical sweeteners such as saccharin to contain their impact on the sugar market and to protect farmers' interests.