Sugar mills have shipped nearly 17 lakh tonne of sugar during the current season which commenced on October 1, 2018, a major trade body has said. The country\u2019s mills have contracted to export 27 lakh tonne of the sweetener, Praful Vithalani, president of the All India Sugar Trade Association, said, adding that sugar exports have risen three times over the previous year from October to April. This includes 8 lakh tonne of raw sugar, according to market reports. Although this may seem only 50% of the quota allotted by the Centre, the exports have gone up three times as compared to the same period of the previous year, he said. The Centre had allocated a quota of 50 lakh tonne from October 2018 to April 2019. Of this, 17 lakh tonne had been already shipped to destinations, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Iran and Sudan, he said. The export of nearly 4.5 lakh tonne is in process, association members said. Of the 27 lakh tonne of exports which have been contracted, nearly 22 lakh tonne have been dispatched by mills for exports. This means some 5 lakh tonne were either in waiting at ports, refineries, or in transit, he said. Last year, 5 lakh tonne were exported during the same period. READ ALSO |\u00a0Here\u2019s why Bata India was fined for Rs 3 paper carry bag Since international prices of sugar were low, millers were initially not very keen on exports. However, with the government expecting excess sugar production in the past six months, millers were exhorted to export and the Centre also announced incentives for export. With piling inventories, factories began sugar exports. Mills in Maharashtra have exported some 4 lakh tonne from October to April 2019.The state has contracted deals for 6 lakh tonne. The Centre had allocated 10-lakh tonne quota for mills in Maharashtra. However, the pace of exports did not pick up until March 2019. Mills across the state have been facing serious liquidity crunch because of low sales. By the end of February, Maharashtra had reported as much as 112.74 lakh tonne. The state had stared at cane crushing season with an opening stock of 53.36 lakh tonne and the tepid sales had posed a serious crisis. As the crushing season nears its end, Maharashtra is expected to cross, or at least equal, last year\u2019s sugar output figures. Last year, Maharashtra has produced 107 lakh tonne of sugar, an all-time high production figure. Of the 195 mills which have taken season, 169 have closed down last week. The state has reported crushing of 946.60 lakh tonne of cane and produced 106.37 lakh tonne of sugar.