Challenges, opportunities in sugarcane sector post Covid

The sugar marketplace involves a paradigm shift to be sustainable and successful in the extensive operate. There is mild at the finish of the tunnel, while, with several start off-ups and improvements, mentioned marketplace captains at a recent webinar on ‘Combating submit Covid-19 issues in sugarcane sector by means of acceptable technologies and approaches’.

With ability utilisation dropping to 35-forty for each cent considering the fact that the announcement of the lockdown in March, the sugar mills in Tamil Nadu have been fighting really hard to endure.

“We have issues past Covid. There could be a next wave and that could be a real danger, significantly throughout peak time (December-March). We have to appear to conditions with the new ordinary — localised outbreaks and lockdown,” mentioned SJ Lakshman, AVP, EID Parry (I) Ltd, stressing the require for a paradigm shift to continue being sustainable and successful in the extensive operate.

“The target ought to be on two-three kinds, on kinds for ethanol with greater brix and shorter length, likelihood of sugar beet as an inter-crop, sweet sorghum kinds for ethanol and so forth…,” mentioned Lakshman.

“At 1 time, we were being pioneers in produce and engineering, but character has been in opposition to us in the previous five decades,” noticed R Varadarajan, complete-time director, Rajshree Sugars.

Production ability

When emphasising the require to target on sugarcane in perspective of the simple fact that the sugar restoration in TN is not only underneath the national average, but has fallen from nine.5 for each cent to hover around eight.six for each cent, Varadarajan mentioned, “The State’s sugar production has slid from 2.42 lakh tonnes in 2011-12 to an approximated .87 lakh tonnes in 2020-21. At this level, even if Tamil Nadu is dropped off the sugar map, the country would not know.”

M Silvester, complete-time director, Kothari Sugars and Chemicals, mentioned that only 26 of the 43 sugar mills (in the non-public and cooperative sector) in the State were being operational, and that far too at properly-underneath ideal ability.

The location beneath sugarcane has fallen by half considering the fact that 2014-fifteen from 4.sixty lakh acres to an approximated 2.thirty lakh acres in 2019-twenty. “Rainfall deficit, depleting floor water table, delayed payment to cane farmers, decreased internet earnings (for the farmer) compared to other crops, labour lack and raising price tag of labour, adopted by Covid — which is paralysing full activities” are driving the pattern, he mentioned.

“Around 23 million farm labourers have moved out of agriculture in the previous eight-9 decades. And this has more been afflicted in the aftermath of the pandemic. The way forward for agricultural labourers would be to encounter the new issues head-on as the luxurious of do the job from household is not doable in agriculture,” he included.

Stating that mechanisation of cane production method would be the resource to fight Covid-19 issues, sugarcane specialist K Nagendran cited good results tales of cane farmers. “Innovation is the essential and entrepreneurial ability of the thriving farmers is visible,” he included.

Organised by the ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute in this article, the webinar was aimed at strategising ways to tide above the submit pandemic issues.

Governing administration support

Highlighting some of the initiatives taken by the State authorities to revive the marketplace, Reeta Harish Thakkar, Commissioner, Sugar, TN authorities, mentioned, “The utilisation ability of the mills has dropped to 35-forty for each cent considering the fact that the announcement of the lockdown in March we have made the decision to keep on with the transitional production incentive, deliver transport subsidy of ₹100 for each tonne of cane (in the direction of which an allocation of ₹106 crore has been made for 2020-21), disburse NADP subsidy and increase the micro irrigation scheme subsidy beneath Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana 2020-21.”

“The authorities has settled ₹169 crore to the TN Generation and Distribution Company on behalf of the sugar mills, so the Company could in switch fork out the marketplace, which would enable (the latter) settle the cane dues to farmers,” the Sugar Commissioner mentioned.

Bakshi Ram, Director of the century-aged Sugarcane Breeding Institute, spoke about the two recent initiatives these as top quality seed production beneath farmers participatory programme (which is currently being pursued for the next consecutive year) and launch of Co 11015, a limited length cane range.

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