Agri Business

Bud chip technology catching on among sugarcane farmers

S Sujitha | Updated on January 07, 2020 Published on January 07, 2020

Representative image   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto

The buds are scooped from the cane by bud chipper and the chipped buds are placed in pro-trays filled with coir pith

Sugarcane is commercially planted using setts at the rate of 6-8 tonnes per hectare, amounting to around 10 per cent of the total production. This large mass of planting material creates logistical challenges in transportation and storage of seed cane. The tissue culture technique, owing to its cumbersome outfit and physical limitation, is turning out to be uneconomical.

A viable alternative is bud chip technology, which reduces the mass and enables quick multiplication of seeds. This method has proved to be more economical and convenient than the traditional method of planting two to three bud setts. The returns are relatively better, with substantial savings on the seed material used for planting.

Sett planting is a common practice in sugarcane cultivation. In recent times, the bud chip settling method is becoming more popular among farmers. Bud chip settling production was originally invented for seed multiplication and breeder seed production. But over a period of time, it is being used as planting material. Hence, all the farmers cannot take up their own production for their requirement and they have to depend on sugar factories or private producers. Making use of this opportunity, several farmers are taking up the bud chip settling production as a small-scale enterprise.

Success story

Murugayya from Thathaiyangarpet block of Tiruchy district is one of the farmers who took up bud chip settling production as a small-scale business. Aaraichi is a small village in Musiri taluk of Tiruchy district in Tamil Nadu. He maintains a separate unit to produce bud chip settlings. He employs 12 labourers and has constructed a shade net for the purpose.

The buds are scooped from the cane by bud chipper and the chipped buds are placed in pro-trays filled with coir pith. A pro-tray can hold 50 buds. The trays are placed one above the other and are covered with gunny bags for a week. After a week, the sprouted buds with the trays are transferred to green net houses and kept there for three weeks with regular watering.

In the traditional method of cutting the canes using a cane knife, the efficiency is reported to be low and quality cutting of buds of sugarcane is hardly achieved. Hence, to overcome this problem, he planned cutting of buds using a bud chip cutter. The electrical sugarcane bud cutting machine is generally equipped with a maximum 1 Hp electrical motor.

"Even unskilled labourers can use this machine to cut the buds more finely and efficiently. It saves time and manpower. However, the cost of the machine is high at around Rs 52,000. This machine also consumes about 5 units of power in 1 hour. Owing to the high cost and power consumption, this machine is unaffordable to many farmers," Murugayya said.

Cost-benefit analysis

For one acre, the sugarcane settling requirement is 4,500 buds. The investment in shade net is around Rs 75,000. The total expenditure incurred for various operations annually is around Rs 70, 000. The annual income is about Rs 1.60 lakh. Thus, he makes a profit of about Rs 90, 000.

By selling one-month-old settling, the farmer earns Rs 2.50 and makes a profit of Re 1 per settling. By implementing this new method, the yield per acre is about 82 tonnes compared with the 60 tonnes per acre by the conventional method.

"I produce settlings on demand. Before taking up the production, I will get assurance from the factory and decide on the number of seedlings to be produced,” Murugayya said.

Government initiative

The Tamil Nadu government is promoting Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) on a larger scale. Under this project, bud chip settling is one of the major recommendations. Hence, there is a high demand for bud chip settlings. Sugar factories are encouraging farmers to take up settling production.

Farmers with entrepreneurial skills are identified by factory personnel and are being given training in chip settlings. After the training, farmers produce bud chip settlings and sell to factories on a contract basis. Both the farmers and the factories benefit from it.

Published on January 07, 2020
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