'Scientists should base their research on farming trends'

Tissue culture based solutions to overcome sugarcane crop failure

'Scientists should base their research on farming trends'

It is important to learn how farmers have adopted technology aimed at improving farming practices. By knowing whether farmers have accepted or rejected a particular technology, it will be easy for scientists to orient their research for the benefit of farmers, said N Vijayan Nair, Director, Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore, here on Monday.

He was speaking at the inaugural of the 19th meeting of Sugarcane Research and Development workers, Southern Karnataka at Rani Bahadur Auditorium, University of Mysore premises.

Speaking on the issues in farming sector related to climate change and global warming, he said that steps should be taken by scientists and farmers to deal with the problem.

Moisture stress management, owing to drought during previous years and inter-cropping are important initiatives to increase the yield of sugarcane crop. Sugar factories should encourage inter-cropping, as inter-cropping, contrary to misconceptions among farmers, resulted in an increase in the yield, he said.

Inter-cropping will also assist in tackling the problems of labour scarcity, high cost of labour and reduce the total cost of cultivation, he noted.

He said that mechanisation of production will also decrease the production cost for farmers.

“Though South Karnataka region is inching towards highest productivity per hectare in sugarcane cultivation, yield has declined in the last couple of years,” he said.
Attributing the decline to disease of sugarcane crop, he suggested tissue-culture based solutions to overcome the problem.

Urging the sugar mills in the region to establish soil testing laboratories, he advised that sugar factories should popularise wide row planting as against the traditional 90 cm row planting, widely practised in the region. Soil testing laboratories will help in identifying soil degradation, which is one of the major factors for low yield, he said.

Mechanisation

In view of the non-availability of labour, mechanisation is necessary for profitable sugarcane cultivation, said M Srinivasan, President, Indian Sugar Mills Association, New Delhi and Managing Director of Sri Chamundeswari Sugars Limited. He noted that exorbitant labour costs and labour scarcity owing to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act are a cause of concern among sugarcane farmers.

He called for fixing a fair price for sugar and sugarcane as many farmers in States across the country are being affected. Collaborative efforts of scientists and producers are necessary to bring down cost of cultivation, he said.

M A Shankar, Director of Research, University of Bangalore noted the importance of water management and adopting technology based solutions to reverse the decline in sugarcane production.

“We are lagging behind in adopting latest technologies. Market linkage is also poor,” he said.

‘Compendium of Research Articles and Status Papers’ was released during the occasion.
The two day convention will deliberate on the technologies adopted or rejected by farmers and the causes for it, water stress management, climate change and other issues related to sugarcane farming.

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