Research, sharing practices among ISO members crucial for high-yield sugarcane: Joshi

The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution also said that sugar production is expected to be good this year depending upon the rains.
Last Updated : 25 June 2024, 08:35 IST

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New Delhi: Research and sharing of best practices among nations are crucial for high-yield, disease-resistant sugarcane varieties and innovative uses of the commodity, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi said on Tuesday.

The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution also said that sugar production is expected to be good this year depending upon the rains.

He made the remarks at the 64th International Sugar Organisation (ISO) Council Meeting in the national capital.

"Sharing best practices and fostering research collaboration across nations is vital. Let us work together to develop high-yielding, disease-resistant sugarcane varieties, explore innovative uses for sugarcane, and promote sustainable practices throughout the value chain," Joshi said.

He said that advanced technologies across the sugar value chain should be increasingly adapted as they will be crucial for reducing waste and ensuring the sustainability of the industry.

The nation is committed to actively collaborating with ISO member countries on developing cutting-edge technologies and sharing expertise in the sugar and biofuel sector, the minister said.

India is the world's largest consumer of sugar and the second-largest sugar-producing country globally. About 10 million farmers and their dependents are engaged in sugarcane cultivation. In addition, the industry is providing employment to lakhs of people directly and indirectly, Joshi said.

Sugarcane serves as a key crop in the biofuel industry. India's journey with biofuels is positively impacting both -- economic growth and agricultural prosperity.

ISO should continue to collaborate on enhancing farm productivity. Our priority should not only be to improve farm income but also to minimise water usage.

Sanjeev Chopra, Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, said climate change puts a huge responsibility on all the ISO members as well as the sugar and ethanol industry to contribute to take the world towards net zero. To achieve this, the sugar and ethanol sector needs to focus on three multi-faceted strategies: developing drought-resistant or low water-consuming varieties of sugarcane, implementing water conservation in sugar production, and transitioning the world from fossil fuels to biofuels, he said.

Further, he said mechanisation of sugarcane farming especially in countries like India, Thailand and other Asian Countries is of prime importance for better yield and recovery. Customisation of machinery for smaller landholding is essential for this purpose and industry needs to work on this.

"Another area where we can work is on green financing for the sugar and ethanol sector. As the industry is capital intensive and needs huge working capital to meet operational requirements, with an increasing role in biofuels like ethanol and Compressed Bio Gas (CBG), the industry needs to partner with financial institutions at the global scale to receive green concessions and easier terms for financing. This may make the whole sector more financially viable and strong," Chopra said.

In India, some sugar mills have got sustainable financing for their biofuel projects. Regarding India, the initial monsoon in Western and Southern India has been good so far raising hopes of a decent crop in the coming season 2024-25.

India will meet its domestic consumption of sugar and will cater for the diversion of sugar for ethanol production as far as possible. While the blending percentage for May 2024 was more than 15 per cent, overall blending for the whole ESY (Ethanol Supply Year) 2023-24 till date has also been at about 12.8 per cent which is higher than last year, he said.

Published 25 June 2024, 08:35 IST

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