ICAR- Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow is actively working for sugarcane and sugar sector in the country and especially for subtropical India. Being situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh the Institute has been implementing targeted programme of cane development in close collaboration with state cane department and sugar mills. This targeted efforts of ICAR- Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow (IISR) culminated into sweet harvest as Uttar Pradesh has achieved record sugar production of 8.72 m t in crushing season 2016-2017 and elevated to the no. one position among sugar producing states of the country. Sustained efforts of IISR to implement cane development activities in participatory mode involving all the stakeholder i.e. Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research (public research institute), State cane department (public development agency), Sugar mill (private) and cane growers (farmer) has contributed significantly in achieving unparalleled success in sugar sector of Uttar Pradesh. Under partnership mode IISR introduced technological interventions, sugar mill supported financial outlay for development activities, State cane department made available functional linkages for executing activities, and farmers spared his land, labour and input resources in execution of collaborative programme in the command areas of sugar mills.
Stagnant cane yield and low sugar recovery became the identity of sugar industry in Uttar Pradesh over the years. There was a challenge to break this jinx with large scale adoption of technological interventions. ICAR-IISR accepted this challenge and started working with deciding strategic plan encompassing identification of technological interventions, sensitization of stakeholders, deploying scientific manpower with active cooperation and logistic support from cane development department, Govt. of U.P. & sugar mills.
Unavailability of healthy seed material was major impediment in replacement of old cane varieties with newly released varieties. This was addressed with implementation of entrepreneurship development programme in seed cane production in farmers’ fields. Every year 2000 t of breeder seed of new cane varieties was produced and multiplied in nurseries and cane development department of state government ensured that it reached to the actual field of the farmers. In this way scarcity of healthy seed material of new cane varieties was mitigated to a great extent. Before year 2012 State cane department was unwilling to recommend varieties tested under AICRP (S) and subsequently released by Central Variety Release Committee (CVRC). ICAR-IISR raised this issue with State Government of U.P. and from 2012, CVRC released varieties was also added in the list of variety recommended for cultivation in the State. This paved the way for large scale adoption of early maturing high sugar variety specially Co 0238 and CoLk 94184 in Uttar Pradesh. Introduction of these varieties changed the sugarcane and sugar production scenario of U.P. dramatically. Another breakthrough in planting was achieved by the adoption of Trench method in about 2.0 lac ha leading to cane yield enhancement by 15-20 t/ha. Post-harvest losses remained major concern as it greatly impairs sugar recovery. This problem was addressed with spraying a mixture of sodium metasilicate (0.5%) + benzalkonium chloride (0.2%) solution on cane after harvest. This led to gain in sugar recovery by 0.3 to 0.5 unit. The large scale adoption of different variants of sugarcane planters helped farmer to complete planting timely amidst labour scarcity and this also helped gain in yield by 8-10%. Likewise, introduction of ratoon promoter machine enhanced ratoon cane yield by 10-15%. Intercropping of pulses, vegetables, oilseeds and cereals with sugarcane gave ample opportunity to cane growers to earn extra income of Rs.50000 to Rs.200000 per ha. Every year 30-40 nos. skill up gradation training for farmers, cane development personnel and sugar mill officers was organized by ICAR-IISR. Participants were groomed as torch bearer of IISR technologies who in turn helped in their subsequent spread and adoption by farmers.
Interface meetings with state cane department and sugar mills were organized regularly to decide operational plan for introduction of IISR interventions in farmers’ fields over large area. Those plans were implemented with active participation of all the stakeholders.
Sweet harvest of the participatory efforts are now quite apparent in the Uttar Pradesh as the state is marching ahead with increasing cane and sugar yield and has gone past all the previous records with wide margin.
(Source: ICAR- Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow)