Let me begin with two quotes viz. “Prosperous farmers mean more employment, more prosperity for the workers and the business men of every industrial area in the whole country” by Franklin D. Roosevelt and “Agriculture is the backbone of the livelihood security system of nearly 700 million people in the country and we need to build our food security on the foundation of home grown food” by M.S. Swaminathan. On the lines of these quotes, the sugarcane crop and the sugar industry both, have proved their worth, not only in the prosperity of the farmers but also the self sufficiency of home grown sugarcane to fulfill the ever growing demand of sugar in the country. During the crushing season of 2016-17, the sugar industries of Uttar Pradesh, the largest sugarcane producing State, attained new heights showing a quantum jump and record in total sugar production. The sugar production of 877.31 lakh quintals by crushing 8271.62 lakh quintals of cane shows a significant jump in production from crushing season of 2015-16 which was 685.53 lakh quintals from 6456.65 lakh quintal cane crushed. The sugar recovery remained almost same at 10.61% as compared to 10.62% in the previous year.
The cane crushing data clearly brings out the capability of sugarcane growers to produce more from the same area when they are provided with superior varieties and production technologies. The importance of high yielding varieties in attaining higher productivity and production is felt by all stakeholders and thus there is a need to give due emphasis on regular supply of new high yielding varieties, their best quality planting material and also the suitable varietal plan to harvest mature cane for higher sugar recovery. The spread of IISR developed machinery and the healthy eco-friendly production technologies will boost the production and productivity further to attain new records in the future. The target of doubling farmer’s income of sugarcane farmers can thus be achieved by maintaining unrestricted supply of best quality planting material, supply of trench planters for deep planting, ratoon manager for timely initiation of ratoon crop, reduction in plant protection cost through resistant/tolerant varieties coupled with bio-control regime, timely harvesting and supply of cane for reduction in post harvest losses and above all by establishing close linkage among all stakeholders for providing timely solutions to the emerging problems.
In synchronization with the set national targets and schemes, ICAR- IISR is working to provide best technologies to the farmers. The varieties like CoLk 94184, CoLk 9709, etc; seed cane production system; sugarcane planters viz. trench planter, FIRB planter, deep furrow planter, etc; ratoon manager, RMD; organic sugarcane production module; water saving cultivation practices; weed management practices; post harvest management practices; and so on are being continuously researched and modified to suit the ever emerging needs of the stakeholders. The demand for these technologies is increasing as their adoption results in immediate returns and profits. But still the major point of concerns for sugar industry in sub-tropical India are low recovery during initial and late crushing seasons, skewed varietal planning, over dependence on limited varieties and abnormally long harvest to crush period. Efforts are on to tackle these strenuous issues by initiating dialogue at different levels as well as providing technological solutions to the specific concerns.
(A D Pathak)