Focus group meet organised by the Sugarcane Breeding Institute at Pugalur in Karur district
KARUR: Sugarcane growers in the region have called for a centralised training facility that possessed all capacity for training farmers and help transfer of technology from lab to land in seamless fashion.
The facility should help scientists further research programmes and they could be supported by a corpus that derived the monetary strength from the contribution made by sugar mills in the State, farmers opined at a focus group meet organised by the Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore, and the EID Parry Sugar Mills at Pugalur in Karur district on Thursday.
The highlight of the discussions was an active interaction among the cane growers, cane officers and scientists from the Institute who answered a volley of questions on a range of issues confronting the farmers.
C. Nagarajan, a farmer from Mahadanapuram in Karur district wanted a cane variety that had a shorter age, say, nine months. Plant breeding specialist P. Govindaraju said that they were working on a variety that could be harvested in nine or 10 months but, he reminded the farmers, short term varieties would have lesser sucrose content.
Progressive farmer Anbalagan of Nachalur and vermicompost specialist Gopalakrishnan of Panikkampatti referred to the top and inter-node borer diseases that were afflicting the crops in Kulithalai region of Karur district and Pettaivaithalai region of Tiruchi district. Entomologist J. Srikkanth suggested that pheromone traps and such other measures could be of great use in such situations.
Soil scientist P. Rakkiappan called upon the farmers to avoid burning of sheaths and leaves on the field as it would always be counter-productive.
N. Sethupathy of Nadayanur and Ponnusamy of Pugalur Cane Growers’ Association wanted the mills in the State to take the lead in establishing a specialised centre for imparting training to farmers on various developments that come about in cane cultivation.
Sugar mills could contribute to the sustenance and development of such a centre by apportioning funds on a pro rata basis on the tonnage they crush or produce, the farmers said reflecting the views of others in the region.
The absence of such a facility was costing the mills and the farmers dear, they felt adding that the Institute could remind the governments on the need and utility of having such a centre.
President of Tamil Nadu Toddy Movement and progressive farmer Nallusamy of Arachalur in Erode district sought to know whether there was any genetically modified sugarcane and the scientists replied that though research was under way the variety might not find its way outside the labs as certain regulations and specifications had to be met.
Growers wanted a variety that withstood drought, disease attacks, short in age, had a good recovery rate and yielded at least 60 tonnes an acre. Similarly, a section of the scientists and farmers felt that organic farming could be panacea to several of the ills plaguing cane cultivation.
More sessions planned
EID Parry Sugar Mills General Manager P. Nagarajan promised that the mill would conduct more interactive sessions involving stakeholders such as cane growers, mill executives and scientists for the overall development of all sections.
Scientists, including B. Puthira Pratap (Agricultural Extension), K. Sivaraman (Agronomy), R. Balakrishnan (Statistics) and A. Ramesh Sundar (Plant Pathology), as also progressive farmers from Tiruchi, Karur, Erode and Namakkal districts participated.
Union Ministry of Science and Technology’s Department of Scientific and Industrial Research was sponsoring the development of the website through the Institute.
Scientist and Central Public Information Officer Vimal Kumar Varun of the DSIR said that the project was being funded under the “Technical Infrastructure Development Programme”.