Agri Business

Sugar industry takes satellite route to map cane area

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 13, 2017 Published on December 22, 2011

AGRI SUGARCANE   -  Business Line

India has joined the ranks of major sugar producers such as Brazil and Thailand in leveraging remote sensing technology to estimate the cane area.

The first pan-India satellite survey jointly commissioned by Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) and the National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories Ltd (NFCSF) has pegged the cane area for 2011-12 crop year starting October at 51.82 lakh hectares (lh). This is about 5 per cent more than 2010-11 crop area of 49.44 lh and marginally higher than the traditional estimates for the current year.

The sugar industry had earlier estimated 2011-12 cane area at 50.79 lh, while the Agriculture Ministry had pegged it at 50.93 lh and the Food Ministry at 50.25 lh.

For the first time the survey was carried out State-wise and district-wise for the area under sugarcane, through satellite mapping on such a large-scale.

Satellite images of the cane area procured from the National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad, were analysed using the Geographical Information Systems software by South India-based firm, whose identity has not been disclosed.

“Though there were some surveys carried out by some trading houses and individual sugar mills, a pan-India survey has been carried out by the sugar industry for the first time,” ISMA said in a statement.


Special precautions were taken to overcome issues and problems like mixed crop signature of lookalike crops by ground truthing report through physical visits or reports from mills and GPS (Global Positioning System) point collection, ISMA said.

The first survey has been restricted to the cane area. With further refinement in the estimation, efforts would be made to survey individual sugar mill-wise area and later efforts could be made for an estimation of the yield, ISMA said.


The other benefits of satellite mapping would include advising individual mills on their cane health issues, local agro-climatic conditions, soil conditions, plant ratoon ratios, traditional and non-traditional growth areas of cane.

The Government has already provisioned satellite crop surveys under their ‘FASAL' programme (Forecasting of Agriculture outputs through Satellite, Agro-meteorology and Land based observations). The industry plans to get the crop survey reports in August and February every year, thereby providing an opportunity to review the estimates mid-year.

ISMA believes that with a higher area now being reported, it expects the cane output to be good.

ISMA has pegged the country's total sugar output at 26 million tonnes in the 2011-12 season, slightly higher than the government's forecast of 24.6-25 million tonnes, while the annual demand is estimated at 22 million tonnes.

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Published on December 22, 2011
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