The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) greatly reduces water requirement and ensures higher yield, less chaff and better resistance to lodging. Its success is tremendous and has been adopted in 19 lakh hectares of the State. Motivated by its success, the Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) has been designed, P. Subbian, Registrar, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, said here on Friday.

He was launching the SSI, an initiative of the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics – Worldwide Fund for Nature (ICRISAT-WWF) Project, in the TN-IAMWARM project at the university.

Mr. Subbian said SSI was a combination of cane planting innovations and water saving practices that had great potential to increase productivity, improve natural resource management, and assure higher income for farmers.

“Besides reducing water requirement, SSI has the scope of reducing seed cane cost, increasing farm income through intercrops, and facilitating mechanised cane harvesting due to wider spacing. Mechanised sugarcane harvesting is highly labour intensive.

To overcome the problem of labour shortage, the Government of Tamil Nadu has decided to purchase 85 harvesting machines. TNAU has already purchased one Bunnai Make Harvester from Thailand,” the Registrar said.

Pointing out that the SSI technique was eminently suited for mechanising sugarcane harvesting, Mr. Subbian said the extension functionaries should ensure rapid spread and adoption of the method across the country, similar to the SRI model. These efforts, he believed, would help the country achieve the targeted sugarcane production of 425 million tonnes.

Biksham Gujja, Team Leader, ICRISAT-WWF Project, Hyderabad, said producing more crops with less water, seed, and fertilisers was currently the greatest challenge facing the agricultural sector, warranting a new revolution in agriculture.

Outlining the strategy to promote SSI in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Gujja said it was proposed to take up at least 1,000 hectares of sugarcane under SSI in the next season.

A manual on SSI was released on the occasion.