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‘Cane operations should be mechanised'

Special Correspondent

Sugar mills in State suffering from acute shortfall in cane availability



To increase yield:Vikram Kapur, Commissioner, Directorate of Sugar, Tamil Nadu, speaking at a workshop on Modern Technologies in Sugarcane Cultivation in Coimbatore.

COIMBATORE: Cane operations should be mechanised to retain farmers in sugarcane cultivation with sustainable returns, according to Commissioner of the Directorate of Sugar Vikram Kapur.

At the inaugural of a two-day workshop here recently on “Modern Technologies in Sugarcane Cultivation”, organised by the Amaravathi Cooperative Sugar Mills, he said that sugar mills in the State were suffering from acute shortfall in cane availability. The cane growers were hit by the high cost and scarcity of agricultural workers.

Farmers should be supported with appropriate technologies to increase the cane yields and profits besides reducing the cost of cultivation. “There is a greater need to adopt scientific cane cultivation and introduce farm implements,” he said.

Though several technologies were available to improve the average cane yield, adoption by farmers was only 50 per cent. The role of the Cane Department, as an extension wing, should be to focus on adoption of the package of practices as per the calendar of operation to improve the average sugarcane yield to at least 90 tonnes per hectare.

In Tamil Nadu, five lakh farmers raised sugarcane on 3.5 lakh hectares. The daily cane crushing capacity of the mills in the State was 1.23 lakh tonnes and the annual requirement of sugarcane was 211 lakh tonnes. The daily crushing capacity of the 17 cooperative and public sector mills in the State was 40,000 tonnes and the annual cane need was 69 lakh tonnes for 100 per cent capacity utilisation. However, cane crushed by the cooperative and public sector mills in the State during 2009-10 was only 37 lakh tonnes with 54 per cent capacity utilisation. This was expected to go up to 60 per cent in the ensuing season.

“There is an urgent need to increase the area under sugarcane cultivation and increase the productivity per unit area so that sugar mills can get full capacity utilisation,” he said.

Research was needed on new varieties that would give higher yield and recovery. The average recovery in the cooperative and public sector mills was 9.11 per cent. “We should achieve 9.6 per cent and in 2011-12 increase it to 10 per cent,” he said. The State Government had decided to introduce mechanised harvesters in these mills. It had also taken up modernisation of these sugar mills with a rehabilitation plan of Rs. 408 crore, he said.

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