Sugar industry investing in improving cane yields

Sugar industry investing in improving cane yields

The sugar industry is ramping up investments to improve cane varieties in the country and it believes sugarcane yields can go up substantially based on available products and data collected by the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA).

According to ISMA, it is working closely with cane research institutes to develop cane varieties that can yield higher and are drought-resistant, pest-resistant and can withstand any vagaries of monsoon.

“Some remarkable progress is being made in identifying certain crop varieties for South India which can give good yield with less water as well. Besides, ISMA is evaluating certain products and methods developed to improve cane yields and reduce water consumption,” said an ISMA vision document.

Higher cane yields will further increase sugar production helping to divert more sugar towards ethanol production. It will help the country achieve 20 per cent ethanol blending and beyond without any problem.

In June this year, a team including representatives from ISMA, the government, the sugar industry, oil marketing companies (OMCs) and the Society of Indian Automobile Companies (SIAM) went to Brazil to understand its ethanol blending journey.

The team learnt how Brazil turned around the ethanol programme, “which had remarkably improved their environment”, the document said.

About 90 per cent of the vehicles in Brazil are fuel flexible vehicles (FFVs) and the average blending is 56 per cent.“Many of our cities, including the National Capital Region, are top-ranking cities as regards the pollution index is concerned. This is a huge health hazard and if correct measures are not taken, we will incur huge expenses in healthcare,” it said.

The document said the time has come to explore FFVs and draw a clear roadmap. As part of its efforts, ISMA signed a memorandum of understanding in October with Toyota India to launch the country’s first-ever FFV in the country.

national policy

The document said the Centre should support efforts to encourage FFVs that will give ethanol suppliers some visibility about the future of ethanol-run vehicles, besides benefitting OMCs and automobile manufacturers.

The country should move towards producing vehicles that will fully run on ethanol (E100) and this help reduce the import bill on petroleum products. Towards, this the sugar industry can become an important contributor, the document said.

The Centre should come out with a national policy to promote E100, it said, adding that GST levy on hybrid FFVs should be the same as that imposed on electric vehicle manufacturers.

The document pointed to Niti Aayog estimates which said the country should produce 1,016 crore litres of ethanol by 2025-26 to achieve 20 per cent ethanol blending.

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