MUMBAI (Reuters) - Sugar mills in India produced 10.5 million tonnes of the sweetener between Oct. 1 and Jan. 15, about 5.3 percent lower than a year earlier as sugar mills in key producing states closed early due to cane shortage, a producers' body said on Wednesday.
A drop in production could lift local prices and prompt the world's second-biggest consumer to allow duty-free imports of the sweetener, supporting global prices that are trading near their highest level in one-and-a-half months.
In top sugar-producing western state of Maharashtra, 56 mills have closed due to cane shortage, while in southern state of Karnataka 21 mills have stopped crushing process, Indian Sugar Mills Association said in a statement.
Sugar mills typically operate between November and April, but this year mills have stopped crushing due to lower cane supplies.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)