For growers and mills in TN, sugar has turned bitter

LN Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on November 15, 2019 Published on November 15, 2019

The area under sugarcane in Tamil Nadu has fallen by more than half in the last five years from 2.63 lakh hectares in 2014-15 to 1.16 lakh hectares in 2018-19.

Tamil Nadu’s cane production during this period slipped 59.2 per cent to 114.72 tonnes (280.93 lakh tonnes) and sugar production by 47 per cent to 6.59 lakh tonnes (12.50 lakh tonnes).

More than 10 sugar mills have downed shutters because of the cane shortage, said KS Subramanian, Director of Research, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, voicing concern.

Subramanian attributes the shortcomings to drought, labour shortage, payment dues to cane farmers and administrative pitfalls. To tide over such issues, we need to augment breeding programmes, evolve high-yielding sugarcane varieties, popularise SSI (System of Sugarcane Intensification), develop crop management strategies and technology capsules to manage devastating pests such as Early Shoot Borer and Internode Borer and diseases such as Red Rot, Smut and Yellow Leaf Disease, Subramanian said. The University released the G 2005047 cane variety in 2019. The cane yield potential of the new release was found to be higher at 140 tonnes/hectare compared to the popular Co 86032, he said.

Meanwhile, rising dues to cane farmers and acute shortage of water has compelled the research institution to look for alternatives.

Published on November 15, 2019
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