Challenges, opportunities in sugarcane sector post Covid

The sugar sector calls for a paradigm change to be sustainable and profitable in the extended run. There is light-weight at the finish of the tunnel, though, with quite a few get started-ups and improvements, stated sector captains at a modern webinar on ‘Combating write-up Covid-19 challenges in sugarcane sector as a result of acceptable systems and approaches’.

With capability utilisation dropping to 35-forty per cent due to the fact the announcement of the lockdown in March, the sugar mills in Tamil Nadu have been fighting tricky to endure.

“We have challenges beyond Covid. There could be a 2nd wave and that could be a actual danger, significantly through peak period (December-March). We have to occur to conditions with the new usual — localised outbreaks and lockdown,” stated SJ Lakshman, AVP, EID Parry (I) Ltd, stressing the need for a paradigm change to keep on being sustainable and profitable in the extended run.

“The aim need to be on two-3 kinds, on kinds for ethanol with larger brix and shorter length, risk of sugar beet as an inter-crop, sweet sorghum kinds for ethanol and so on…,” stated Lakshman.

“At a person time, we were pioneers in produce and technological innovation, but nature has been in opposition to us in the final 5 several years,” observed R Varadarajan, full-time director, Rajshree Sugars.

Production capability

Although emphasising the need to aim on sugarcane in watch of the truth that the sugar restoration in TN is not only beneath the national regular, but has fallen from 9.5 per cent to hover about eight.six per cent, Varadarajan stated, “The State’s sugar creation has slid from 2.forty two lakh tonnes in 2011-twelve to an estimated .87 lakh tonnes in 2020-21. At this rate, even if Tamil Nadu is dropped off the sugar map, the place wouldn’t know.”

M Silvester, full-time director, Kothari Sugars and Substances, stated that only 26 of the forty three sugar mills (in the non-public and cooperative sector) in the Condition were operational, and that much too at effectively-beneath optimum capability.

The region below sugarcane has fallen by half due to the fact 2014-15 from 4.60 lakh acres to an estimated 2.thirty lakh acres in 2019-twenty. “Rainfall deficit, depleting floor drinking water table, delayed payment to cane farmers, decreased internet money (for the farmer) as opposed to other crops, labour lack and expanding charge of labour, followed by Covid — which is paralysing overall activities” are driving the trend, he stated.

“Around 23 million farm labourers have moved out of agriculture in the final 8-nine several years. And this has additional been afflicted in the aftermath of the pandemic. The way ahead for agricultural labourers would be to face the new challenges head-on as the luxurious of operate from dwelling is not achievable in agriculture,” he included.

Stating that mechanisation of cane creation procedure would be the device to beat Covid-19 challenges, sugarcane specialist K Nagendran cited results tales of cane farmers. “Innovation is the vital and entrepreneurial capability of the prosperous farmers is seen,” he included.

Organised by the ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute in this article, the webinar was aimed at strategising approaches to tide more than the write-up pandemic challenges.

Government assistance

Highlighting some of the initiatives taken by the Condition governing administration to revive the sector, Reeta Harish Thakkar, Commissioner, Sugar, TN governing administration, stated, “The utilisation capability of the mills has dropped to 35-forty per cent due to the fact the announcement of the lockdown in March we have made the decision to carry on with the transitional creation incentive, give transport subsidy of ₹100 per tonne of cane (towards which an allocation of ₹106 crore has been built for 2020-21), disburse NADP subsidy and prolong the micro irrigation plan subsidy below Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana 2020-21.”

“The governing administration has settled ₹169 crore to the TN Era and Distribution Company on behalf of the sugar mills, so the Company could in flip pay back the sector, which would assistance (the latter) settle the cane dues to farmers,” the Sugar Commissioner stated.

Bakshi Ram, Director of the century-aged Sugarcane Breeding Institute, spoke about the two modern initiatives this sort of as excellent seed creation below farmers participatory programme (which is getting pursued for the 2nd consecutive 12 months) and launch of Co 11015, a brief length cane range.

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