‘Adopt Brazil sugar factory model’

Three-day annual group meeting on sugarcane begins at UAS Dharwad

India has outscored Brazil to emerge as number one country in production of sugar, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (Commercial Crops) Assistant Director-General R.K. Singh has said.

Speaking at a three-day annual group meeting of Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research (IISR) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on sugarcane at the Farmers Knowledge Centre on UAS campus here on Monday, Mr. Singh said that sugarcane is grown in five million hectares of land, producing nothing less than 380 million tonnes of sugar.

He said that during the last 49 years, sugarcane cultivation has increased by three times and sugar production by eight times. Sugar recovery too has increased by 1.8 times. The Union government had fixed a target of 380 million tonnes sugar by 2030, but due to development of high-yield quality crops, the country has reached the target by 2019 itself. Owing to excess production, the government has introduced new sugar policy wherein the focus is on producing ethanol directly from sugarcane juice. All these years, ethanol was produced with molasses but now it will be from sugarcane juice, he added.

This year, the country produced 130 crore litres of ethanol with Uttar Pradesh topping the list by producing 40 % of it.

Agriculture is contributing 15.2 % to the total GDP of which 6 % is sugarcane. After cotton, sugarcane is the highest revenue-generating crop grown in India. Efforts for new inventions and innovations in the agriculture sector, particularly sugarcane, are on. As India spends ₹ 8.1 lakh crore to import crude oil, the focus is on the production of ethanol which can be blended with petrol to reduce the import of crude oil. At present, 5 % of ethanol is blended with petrol but by 2024, 30 % ethanol will be blended with petrol. This will help cut down imports to 70 %, while another three per cent will be met with local exploration and renewable energy, he said.

Mr. Singh suggested that sugar factories adopt the Brazil sugar factory model wherein sugar can be produced if the price increases in the international market or when there is a price crash, opt for ethanol production which can fetch good revenue.

Earlier, inaugurating programme, Ugar Sugar Factory Chairman Praful Shirgaonkar said that price and production turbulence has severely affected growers and also sugar factories. The factories wanted to start crushing soon but due to premature crops, crushing could not be taken up. It is expected that the crushing season would begin in November, he said.

About ethanol production, he said that it is a very good move by the Centre to allow blending 30 % ethanol with petrol and the factories have to lay more stress on this, he added.

UAS Vice-Chancellor M.B. Chetti, who presided over the programme, urged scientists to come out with short-duration sugarcane varieties so that water can be saved.

He suggested trying alternative crops such as sugarbeet by overcoming its processing problems. Due to climate change there is an urgent need for developing drought-resistant sugarcane varieties, which is need of the hour, he said.

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Printable version | May 18, 2020 9:31:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/adopt-brazil-sugar-factory-model/article29684528.ece

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