New Delhi: The Food Ministry has issued permits for the export of nearly 37,000 tonnes of sugar so far out of the one million tonnes that the government has allowed for overseas shipment in the ongoing 2011-12 marketing year.

Last month, an Empowered Group of Ministers on Food headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had approved the export of one million tonnes of sugar under Open General Licences (OGL) in the 2011-12 marketing year (October- September). The Food Ministry notified the decision on December 2.

According to information posted on its website, the ministry has issued export release orders for 36,873 tonnes to 19 sugar mills as of December 13. The export quota of one million tonnes will be shared between sugar factories on the basis of their average production over the last three years.

India exported 2.6 million tonnes of sugar under OGL in the 2010-11 marketing year.

The government has permitted exports of the sweetener as domestic production is estimated at 24.66 million tonnes this season against annual domestic demand of about 22 million tonnes.

The industry, however, has pegged the output higher at 26 million tonnes and is demanding permission to export four million tonnes of sugar this marketing year.

Sugar production in India, the world's second-largest producer and biggest consumer, stood at 24.2 million tonnes in the 2010-11 marketing year, as against nearly 19 million tonnes in the previous season.