An Initiative of ICRISAT-WWF Project
S ust ai
ti a t
u g a rc a n
Volume 1 Issue 1 November 2009
“More with Less”
An initiative in sustainable sugarcane production
Sugarcane is an important crop in India and it will continue to be so in
future. But it is facing a major crisis, and there are many reasons for it. One
of the most important is the water crisis. The yields are low, the cost of
facts, but what is unknown so far and is becoming increasingly important
is climate change. Until now climate change was debated by non-farming
community, primarily scientists and lately politicians, but farmers have
Contents already begun to experience it. Climate change is adding to the uncertainty
“More with Less”
An initiative in
production 4 planted. As such the water requirement is almost the whole year round. In a
Dr. V. Vinod Goud country like India where during the grueling summer, water becomes acute,
sugarcane puts a heavy strain on the depleted resource. And if that summer
Sweet Revolution, were to become little more acute due to climate change, the implications
2009! SSI gives birth
to Neo-Agriculture 7
Frank A. Hilario But the Climate change - which is directly affecting the crop - is also going
to be biggest opportunity for sugarcane in terms of market opportunity.
SSI interventions : There is an increasing demand for ethanol - the climate friendly fuel. Given
The progress made that sugarcane is a future crop, it needs to be cultivated with futuristic
and the plans ahead 11 concepts and methods. The old way of growing sugarcane not only will
Dr. N. Loganandhan push the farmers into deeper debts, but it will also lose the freshly opening
market opportunities for ethanol. So sugarcane, a crop with great future
SSI: A New and potential to address the most pressed global issue - climate change -
Experience in has to be cultivated with radically different approaches and methods. That is
Sugarcane Cultivation the reason SSI - Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative - has been put together.
Shri. P. K. Singh
Until now the fundamental thinking in agriculture has been ‘more to get a
Minister with a little more’. This path has reached its dead end and the more has become
Dr. Biksham Gujja
farmer’s heart and soul 17 ever more and margins to farmers have become very little. The result has
Dr. Amrik Singh ICRISAT-WWF project plunged Rural India into a four-fold crisis: One, the farmers are borrowing
more and more and not able to pay back due to dwindling yields and increase
in costs. Also, farmers are not able to pay the laborers as much as the fast
in Nayagarh District growing industrial sector. This is driving them to migration, to the cities.
of Orissa 18
Sraban Kumar Dalai and Arundhati Jena Two - Since agricultural wages are not competitive, the government has to
pump in large amounts of money to keep the rural people employed, often
in jobs which may not be directly linked to production or enhancement
Age Farmer of SSI 20 of agricultural productivity. Since the workers have been ‘employed’ by
Manisha Agarwal governments as part of creating livelihoods (ex. NREGA), farmers complain
that they are not getting enough labor in time for the regular agricultural
Fundamentals of SSI 22 operations. The story is far from over yet.
We invite sugarcane farmers, scientists, agriculture Chief Editor: Dr. Biksham Gujja
Editor-in-charge: Manisha Agarwal Layout and Design:
on innovations, practices in sugarcane and share ideas Akshakala
and feedback on the articles in the Newsletter. We also Anuradha S. Echambadi Map and Technical Support:
invite news items, events and information on seminars/ Dr. V. Vinod Goud Sraban Kumar Dalai
workshops/trainings with photographs to the following Dr. N. Loganandhan Admin. Support:
email ID: email@example.com Manisha Agarwal R. Padma Reddy
Three - Excessive use of fertilizers, which are of course The Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) has to be seen in this
heavily subsidized, indiscriminate use of pesticides, context. It is already a big success. Already it has caught the
massive pumping of ground water with free electricity, attention of many stakeholders - farmers, millers, agricultural
all of the above have contributed to soil degradation, equipment manufacturers, researchers, and even the policy
over-exploitation of ground water, pollution of rivers makers. Again, SSI is not magic or some mystifying technology.
and prevalence of health hazards, etc. The ecological It is even now evolving and is like open source programming.
degradation in turn is resulting in the decline of yields and Many farmers are going to add and modify to the method to suite
increasing costs in agriculture.
though - it is possible to use a lot less sugarcane to plant the
crop, it is possible to grow a nursery without any additional costs,
and intensity of rainfall and associated with it, the availability it is possible to plant wide and most importantly, it is possible to
in the same area in the same year. This will only further add depending on several factors.
The SSI manual released in May 2009 attracted the attention of
These are but some of the problems and list might go many stakeholders. The process of working together to scale it up
on and on. Regarding solutions, there is no new ‘magic’ is on. All the stakeholders - farmers, millers, agriculture equipment
technological breakthrough in the near future like manufacturers and policy makers, need to have a combined vision
improved varieties, Hybrids, GMs, etc. While there was some
as exciting to the farmers. On the contrary, they would assist them in improving their cane production while reducing the Nov ‘09
need to invest even more to get access to them. The ‘More costs. SSI will help farmers to adapt to the uncertainties of climate
to get little more’ strategy has increased the government change while at the same time contributing to the reduction in
spending on fertilizer subsidy, large resources have to be the release of greenhouse gases, by producing more ethanol. It is
diverted to rural employment, construction of large water adaptation and mitigation, both as part of the same intervention.
infrastructure to divert the non-existent or uncertain water SSI is going to help reduce the human footprint on planet earth
resources, subsidizing the farmers to pump out ground water
these measures seem to be working. This newsletter is a forum to assist that process of scaling up the
As mentioned before, there are no magic solutions to experiences of the SSI demonstration sites. More importantly, the
the present agricultural problems. So the question is, farmers behind this, the farmers who have done pioneering work,
‘Is it possible to produce more with less?’ Certainly, the have been given focus. We also give a brief taste of the progress in
question might sound unrealistic. But that is the challenge. our systematic demonstration sites. This only a beginning and we are
sure SSI is certainly going to effect a change in the way sugarcane
method has proved that it is indeed possible to produce is cultivated. We invite individuals and institutions to be part of
this process and use this newsletter to improve the understanding
less water. The results are out there in the public domain to
verify. For any agriculture practice, the ultimate test is the
acceptance of farmers. SRI has been accepted by millions and add to the knowledge base in improving the sugar sector.
of farmers and many more will do the same. SRI has not
only changed the method of rice cultivation but has also
transformed the thinking process for future agriculture. Dr. Biksham Gujja
For further feedback and information contact:
Published by: NOTE: The views and opinions expressed
ICRISAT-WWF Project, in this Newsletter are authors’ own and Editorial Desk,
ICRISAT, ICRISAT-WWF Project,
Patancheru, of the ICRISAT-WWF project and SSI
Cover Photo Courtesy: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Email: email@example.com ICRISAT-WWF Project Team firstname.lastname@example.org
“More with Less”
An initiative in sustainable sugarcane production
Water is proving to be one of the major constraints for Indian farmers affecting the
by climate change are debilitating the sugarcane farmers in the country today.
Dr. V. Vinod Goud Rice, sugarcane and cotton are among the
highest water guzzling crops. Sugarcane
The effects of climate change are
becoming apparent more and
more all over the world and agriculture is
water to produce 1 kg of cane. Besides,
sugarcane is one of the most important
the most affected due to changes in the commercial crops in India both for its sugar
and other by-products. India ranks second in
rainfall has led to shortfalls in food the world, after Brazil, in terms of sugarcane
supplies and spiralling prices of essential growing area (4.1 m ha) and production.
food commodities. Sugar industry is the second largest in
the country in the agro-processing sector
The mitigation of the effects of climate
change is complicated due to its
multidimensional nature. In agriculture, this
necessitates identifying and developing
better crop management options, which potential to address energy needs through
can tolerate water shortages and adapt to Cogen and ethanol production.
Nov ‘09 the extremes of weather induced by climatic
change and yet produce more without Of late, there is increasing concern about
putting pressure on the ecosystem. low productivity in most of the sugarcane
During the SSI Training Manual Release: From (Lto R) Dr. S. P. Wani, Principal Scientist, ICRISAT; Shri. Prabhakar Reddy, President,
Farmers Federation of AP; Dr. Biksham Gujja, Team Leader, ICRISAT-WWF Project, Dr. William Dar, Director General, ICRISAT;
Shri. Sucha Singh,Hon’ble Agriculture Minister, Punjab; Dr. Dave Hoisington, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT;
Dr. Vithal Rajan, Board of Directors, KCP Sugars; Shri. P. K. Singh, General Manager-Cane, Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd
producing states in India - in AP, where to climatic change, as revealed in a no choice but to shift to remunerative
recent four-year study conducted by commercial crops.
the World Bank.
Under these circumstances, if India has Nov ‘09
2008-09; in UP, the average number of While sugar mills are suffering due to sustain its sugarcane production
millable canes per unit area has come to inadequate supply of cane for
crushing, the sugarcane farmers are productivity of sugarcane per unit of
facing problems of their own. On land, water, labour and capital all at
t/ha, though this state has the largest the one hand, the cost of cultivating the same time, while striking a balance
area under cultivation of sugarcane. cane is increasing and on the other, between economy and ecology.
the prices offered by the factories are
Sugarcane production is expected making it uneconomical to continue Responding to this need, World
its cultivation. Therefore, farmers have Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has
partnered with International Crops
Research Institute for the Semi-Arid
State-wise Area, Production and Productivity of Sugarcane Tropics (ICRISAT) to explore options
in India (2006-07) for “Improving water productivity in
Agriculture” in order to improve water
Based on the principles of ‘more with
less’ in agriculture, the project initiated
largest water-guzzling crop - through
research and policy advocacy to
popularise and mainstream the System
rice cultivation (see website: www.sri-
india.net). Encouraged by the results in
Area (‘0000 ha) Production (MT) Productivity (t/ha)
now, the focus shifted to sugarcane in
Source: Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture the last one and half years.
SSI methods popular among farmers
and sugar industries. After the book
release , the wide media coverage of
the event generated huge interest
regarding the SSI methods among
industrialists, farmers and the State
Agriculture Ministries across India
and other countries. The Manual is
now ready for publication in Hindi,
partnership with various Government
for farmers to read and understand
them in their own language.
The Triveni Industry team during a training session at ICRISAT
Inspired by the principles of SRI, the water abstractions and farm chemical and demonstration plots are being set
project team started identifying, usage. up in partnership with industries, NGOs
and farmers in states such as Uttar
practices in sugarcane already in use The objective of this exercise was Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra
in the public domain for long but to understand the problems of Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa.
limited to a few farmers. growing sugarcane and to study the
innovations in reducing the inputs and The results so far have been very
SSI was evolved after one and half cost of cultivation while improving encouraging in the demonstrations
years of extensive consultations yields and incomes of the farmers. plots. The tillering and crop growth
with progressive sugarcane farmers are much better than the sugarcane
across the country combining the crops grown under conventional
Nov ‘09 cane planting innovations, better “SSI Training Manual: Sustainable methods.
plant and water management and
Sugarcane Cultivation in India” in A long-term strategy is being
of which will accrue to the cane English was published and launched developed to scale up SSI in all
producer and mill owner on the by Dr. William Dar, the Director sugarcane growing states in order to
one hand and on the other, to the General of ICRISAT at an event make a dent in the sugar industry and
environment as a result of reduced organised to introduce and make the target at improving the conservation
of water in sugarcane cultivation
in particular and the agricultural
sector in the country in general. It is
imperative that a consortium based
institutional mechanism be evolved,
with an objective of generating
farmers, researchers, equipment and
machinery interests. This would help
in promoting wider adaptation of SSI,
along with active Government support
- in the form appropriate policy as well
least one third of India’s total sugarcane
Dr. V. Vinod Goud is the Project Coordinator
for the ICRISAT-WWF Project at ICRISAT,
Dr. Vinod Goud inspecting the nursery seedlings at Farmer Makhan Singh’s place Patancheru
The following article was written by Frank A. Hilario and is a detailed analysis of the present world
situation of sugarcane and sugar industry and how well the SSI Manual of ICRISAT-WWF can come to
the rescue of the resources strapped farmers. It has been reproduced here with his kind permission.
Sweet Revolution, 2009! SSI gives birth to Neo-Agriculture
Frank A. Hilario inputs need to be decreased. Our
hectares, reportedly the Philippines’ technical knowledge needs to change
May 27, 2009 largest sugarcane plantation for the better, and not only in making
things clear to the layman.
Revised 29 May 2009 Province is next to Pangasinan. I
at 0949 Manila time preferred the light one ‘with a warm We Filipinos learned to produce sugar
honey color s
SWEET LOVE C12H22O11, Sweet Ignore (billingston.co.uk). Today, raw sugar,
muscovado is considered a health Sugar History Newsletter July 2004).
food. Not surprisingly, it has all Today, some 170 years later, the way
saccharine. I like it harvested from the natural vitamins & minerals in we grow sugarcane leaves much to
sugarcane juice (sugarindia.com). I be desired.
I like it cultured on soil rather than love it!
cultured on Petri dishes or whatever. I Actually, the world over, most Nov ‘09
want to be in the US, the home of the Raw sugar is a major export of the 7
sugarcane farmers have much to
brave and the land of the free. But I Philippines. For 2009, the country will learn about raising cane. We need
don’t want to be sugar-free. e the US a Sweet Revolution in sugarcane
is importing for the year (March 2009, farming in response to the realities
I’m in the Philippines; I am a farmer’s agriculture-ph.com). How sweet! of climate change (global warming/
the natural to the man-made. Today, We Filipinos are good in raising Cain, (like too much fertilizer), and
I want to talk nicely about sweetness. that’s for sure. If you didn’t know, you dwindling resources (like the water
Grown by mild-mannered chemists have not been reading the papers.
Now, are we Filipinos good in raising are overdrawn).
Saccharin is sweet; grown by tough-
talking farmers on uneven farms with writing this long essay. But we are For sugarcane farmers in the dry
hard methods, C12H22O11, sugar is good producers of sugar. In crop year tropics, who can they turn to, to
sweet and delectable. learn to grow sugarcane much, much
better? The Brazilians are the biggest
And that would be muscovado. In the compared to 1998-1999 largely due sugarcane producers in the world,
to higher sugar recovery but Brazil doesn’t have the drylands
shorts going to grade school in the the increase can also be attributed that we have. In the 2007-2008
village of Sanchez in the sleepy town of to ‘favorable climatic conditions, season, total sugarcane production
Asingan, Pangasinan in Central Luzon adoption of high-yielding varieties, was estimated highest in Brazil at 491
in the Philippines, I had muscovado improved cultural practices, increased
in my pocket somewhere to bring farm inputs, and better milling tonnes (commodityonline.com). So
out as snack. Were we poor? Not
really, but I have always been a sweet goliath.ecnext.com). (I tried hard but
tooth; I loved the brown color and I couldn’t get 2007 or 2008 data on
the God-given sweetness. Asingan recovery rate.) SSI is
never had a sugarcane plantation, sugarcane
but we always had muscovado. It
S ust ai
The problem there is that ‘favorable agriculture
ti a t
must have come from Tarlac, from climatic conditions’ doesn’t apply at its best.
the Central Azucarera De Tarlac, the anymore; cultural practices need to u g a rc a n
maybe we should go to India and learn In fact, in 510 BC In this unusual Age of Climate
from the Indians. After all, in history, Emperor Darius of Persia
invaded India and found the panda is talking to the plant.
grown in that country (Wikipedia). ‘the reed which gives Based in Switzerland, the current
Except the latest news is that, in honey without bees’ top panda of WWF is President Chief
contrast to the Philippines, last year (quoted by ANN in sucrose.com). Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria; based in
India had a decline in recovery rate, India, the current top crop of ICRISAT
which is the amount of sugar you is Director General William Dar of the
huge mistake is that they have been
commodityonline.com). were thinking of, if vaguely, if I may
it comes to the growing of sugarcane:
Consider: The above production too much water for the canes in the the concept of optimum sustainable
yield. OSY is where you decrease the
yield estimates change during the
year as the weather changes; after And that’s one of the modern Indian water, fertilizer and seed in particular
all, in agriculture, harvests are only as lessons we can learn on campus at
good as the weather allows. So, expect ICRISAT at Patancheru. As far as I
that for any growing season, any know, they are very serious when OSY one better; it so happens that
country’s sugarcane yield estimates they say, ‘We need to explore every in SSI, while you decrease the costs,
will be revised at least 4 times: early possible approach to reduce the water you increase the yield. Plow in less,
in the year, before harvest, harvest input to all crops, particularly those
time, then afterwards. which excessively depend on scarce agriculture at its best.
resources.’ That’s ICRISAT Director
General William Dar speaking. In The ICRISAT-WWF partnership is a
other words, he is telling us we have revelation. The WWF has a mandate
to save on water, and so do our of protecting ecosystems; considering
your weather. And why is that? As far crops. I know him personally to be a that, ‘ICRISAT is collaborating with
Nov ‘09 as I can tell, the telling effect of the non-traditional and out-of-the-box WWF to understand and integrate the
weather is felt by plants via the water manager-thinker, looking for, in his ecological concerns of agriculture,’
in the soil. Water is that important. own words, ‘approaches wherein the Dar says. ‘This partnership is unique,
resource inputs are low and yields are and we are looking forward to many
Mark Twain did say, ‘Everybody talks high.’ The mantra of the Consultative more practical results on the ground.’
about the weather, but nobody does Group on International Agricultural Not just theories but practices.
anything about it.’ In this age of Research, CGIAR, is ‘Doing More with
Climate Change, I say we need to and And so, on March 2009, the ICRISAT-
indeed we can modify the weather, if WWF project came up with a training
we simply modify the water in the soil: that kind of farming is contrary to manual with the long title, Sustainable
how much is in it and how much the textbook economics, isn’t it? As well Sugarcane Initiative (SSI): Improving
plants are taking out and transpiring as textbook agriculture. Sugarcane Cultivation in India. Dated
from it. We need to practice out-of- March 2009 and released May, the
the-box water management. Going-against-the-grain-of accepted
practices was very much in the minds with plenty of photographs, freely
I did say we should go to India and of the experts when they worked downloadable from here: panda.org.
learn. You know, we learn from out the joint project Sustainable
mistakes, preferably those of others, Sugarcane Initiative, SSI. I’m referring About the training manual, Project
preferably big. In this case, India is to the World Wide Fund for Nature, Leader Gujja says that ‘the inspiration
the biggest sugar producer in the WWF and the International Crops for putting this package together
world Research Institute for the Semi-Arid is from the successful approach of
they must make big mistakes there. Tropics, ICRISAT. The Team Leader
for the SSI project is Biksham Gujja which has been proven to need less
Persia invaded India and found ‘the water and yet to yield more. And do
reed which gives honey without bees’ Project Scientist for WWF based at the you know who invented SRI? It was
(quoted by ANN in sucrose.com). Now ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru, Fr Henri De Laulanie SJ who spent
then, the Indians have been raising
Malagasy rice farmers in Madagascar pre-climate change agriculturists prescribed for SSI/neo-agriculture
(ANN, ciifad.cornell.edu). He came up think of that?! They couldn’t have for sugarcane (mostly from the SSI
because they were not thinking out training manual):
De Laulanie, along with some Malagasy of the box. Now, neo-agriculturists, as
colleagues set up a non-government well as neo-economists perforce must (1) Raise single-budded setts in nursery.
organization, NGO, the Association think of water used in production, not
Tefy Saina, to help improve lives in as a dependent but an independent coconut coir. Being hygroscopic,
Madagascar. ‘Tefy Saina’ means, in variable, something that can be to the coir absorbs water 8-9 times its
Malagasy, ‘to improve the mind.’ the highest degree manipulated, own weight, then slowly releases
Cornell International Institute for Food, controlled, varied or changed. This is the precious liquid to the feeding
Agriculture and Development, is now water before the bridge. roots of the setts. Also, nursery-
working with Tefy Saina. The Jesuits raised settlings are excellent for
can teach even the experts a thing or The ICRISAT-WWF sugarcane scientists
two about culture and agriculture. may have been thinking more of Indian
sugarcane farmers than those in other same age as the ones growing in
From SRI to SSI. The SSI approach has lands, but that was natural. They had
been tested by farmers in different enough problems in India already! Neo- same time.
climatic zones of India: Punjab, Uttar agriculture will have greater impact
Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka in India than the Philippines, simply (2)
and Orissa (KV Kumanath, 07 May, because in the Land of the Maharajas, days old). By then, the settlings
thehindubusinessline.com). With are old enough and vigorous
very encouraging results, Gujja says farmers, and that number is more to withstand the shock of
he expects that the SSI practice will than the entire population of Canada, transplanting. Well-developed, the Nov ‘09
replace farmer’s practice in sugarcane setts can compete with the weeds 9
million in 2021 (sustreport.org). This better, and can increase cane yield
ethique.org). I expect the same for is not to mention the multiplier effect
the Philippines. 1994, University of the Ryukyus,
depend on employment generated by rms1.agsearch.agropedia.affrc.
In fact, SSI is the new economics of go.jp).
call it from here on, because it’s new
and because I believe the concepts It is true that we have only
are applicable with other crops. This is Filipino sugarcane farmers (Katharine
the Sweet Revolution of 2009 I refer times more millable canes because
to in the title to this essay. even then, all of them too have to the setts produce more tillers. It
practice neo-agriculture for cane also reduces the number of setts
Call it SSI or call it neo-agriculture, it starting right now. Filipinos, neo-
has been shown to work in practice, farmers of sugarcane? That would be setts to 4,000 single-budded setts
not simply in theory. One Indian farmer, sweet music to my ears. to an acre.
PK Singh, in Uttar Pradesh found that
cane yields went up to 100 tonnes to For starters, here are some techniques (4) Apply a trash mulch. Apply
a hectare as against a ‘normal’ yield of
of planting. Mulching is the best
com). That’s an increase in yield of In fact, SSI is the new practice in controlling weeds.
economics of agriculture Trash mulch can also increase
– neo-agriculture I shall yield and decrease energy cost (AC
call it from here on, Srivastava, 2002, asae.frymulti.
recommendation that caught my eye because it’s new and com). I myself have written about
is that on water. If you follow neo- because I believe the what Edward H Faulkner calls
agriculture, all things being equal, your concepts are applicable trash farming in my ‘Lesson of
with other crops. This is the Water Cycle’ (20 April 2008,
irrigation and your output will be up the Sweet Revolution of americanchronicle.com).
2009 I refer to in the
economics of agriculture. Why didn’t title to this essay. (Contd. on page 14)
SSI Introduced Districts in India
tillers Women labourers chipping buds
from the canes
Farmer watering the nursery
Young seedlings ready
Transplantation between rows of
Cutting of mother shoot
This article presents a brief overview
SSI interventions of the progress made so far and the
future plans as part of this process.
The progress made and the plans ahead
The following is a brief report on the interventions
taken up by ICRISAT-WWF project this year
in some states across the country. and production of sugarcane at
Dr. N. Loganandhan biggest sugar mills are located in
this state. During September 2008,
Engineering and Industries (Sugars),
UP, the third largest producer
in the country, visited the WWF
theoretical inputs in classrooms and
innovative farmers. Detailed practical
information on bud chip nursery,
planting techniques and water saving
technologies was imparted to them.
The visiting staff of Triveni Sugars was
impressed with the seed saving, wide
spacing and water saving potential
of the SSI methods. Subsequently, a
partnership has been established with
them as a consequence of which, it
was decided to conduct experimental
T o create awareness about the SSI
methods among farmers, sugar
of disseminating these practices through
capacity development programmes factory locations.
holders, and review its adoptability in in different states across India. The
following table details the training The trials began during February
WWF Project team has taken initiative programmes undertaken so far: - March this year at four sugar
factories located at Khatauli in
Muzaffarnagar, Deoband in Saha-
SSI trainings organized by the ICRISAT-WWF Project team
ranpur, Sabitgarh in Bulandshahar
(Sep 2008 to July 2009)
and Chandanpur in J.P Nagar.
State Organization Date of training No. of participants
Staff Farmers About one lakh seedlings were
Uttar Pradesh Triveni Engineering --
Punjab Agricultural Technology 21-22 January, 2009 -- acres.
(ATMA), Government of Experiments comprising different
India, Gurdaspur treatments are being tried out
Orissa NIRMAN, Nayagarh 21-22 January, 2009 1 considering the variations like plant
Karnataka Outreach, Bidar 2
Tamil Nadu Thumbal SRI Farmers’ -- 8 direction (N-S and E-W), furrow
Association, Salem, and drip irrigation, organic and
Ponni Sugars, Erode inorganic fertilizers, intercropping
Andhra Kakatiya Sugars, Kham- 8-10 July, 2009 -- etc., along with a control plot
Pradesh mam district
with conventional practices to
compare with the performance of the farmers from ATMA. Farmers coco-pith were provided to them to
SSI methods. raise nursery. Farmers got involved
March and May. It was interesting in the activities very actively and
Performance so far to note that they have also tried out
several other materials like sawdust, status of the crops with promising
saved during the nursery stage vermi-compost, poultry feed, etc., for performance of the sugarcane crop
raising bud chip nursery, in the place under SSI. Details in this regard
More number of tillers were seen of coco-pith. can be read from another exclusive
per clump (about 8 on an average article in this publication.
The present scenario and
performance Andhra Pradesh
Compared to control plots, only At present, 7 farmers are practicing In 2008-09, the productivity in
SSI in an area of 8 acres in this sugarcane in Andhra Pradesh was
state. reduced to 77 t/ha as against 82 t/
The girth (about 10 cm) of individual The crop shows healthy signs in the demand for SSI methods from
canes is comparatively better in SSI terms of increase in tiller count many farmers and industry staff, a
plots need for establishing model farms
their earlier experience). in the vicinity of ICRISAT was felt.
Future plans In the month of March 2009, about
Impressed by the results so far, the Intercrops like maize and bhendi 10,000 seedlings were provided to
management has decided to upscale have been successfully tried by two farmers of nearby Madgi and
this method and so has planned to the farmers. Hathanura villages. In the month of
July 2009, a training programme was
As the seedlings were well
established while earthing up, Kakatiya Sugars in Khammam district
been initiated and the planting will be lodging of the crop was minimal. by the SSI project team.
Nov ‘09 carried out in November 2009.
The path ahead In August 20-21, an experience
Punjab In the Kisan Mela conducted at sharing workshop on better manage-
Sugarcane is one of the major crops Gurdaspur on 10th September 2009, ment practices was organized by
of Punjab, thanks to the availability the Consortium of Indian Farmers’
of abundant water resources. Punjab interest to try this new method and Association (CIFA ) in Hyderabad, with
farmers are known for their enthusiasm registered their names to know more support from the ICRISAT-WWF Project
in adopting any innovative technology about it. It is learnt that trainings for selected innovative farmers from
as was evident from the time of Green would soon be conducted for these Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh
Revolution. In the month of January registered farmers by ATMA and and Maharashtra. Delivering the
selected farmers among the trainees Special Message, Dr. Lakshmi Narayana,
Gurdaspur district, underwent the SSI would be supported with materials to I.A.S, Commissioner of Sugarcane,
training supported by the ICRISAT- Government of Andhra Pradesh said he
WWF project. Soon after the training, was indeed happy to see the presence
the farmers initiated the activities of Orissa of farmers’ associations participating in
Along with the Punjab farmers, six
from the trainees, some of their farmers and a staff member from to all farmers. He added that, it is indeed
neighboring farmers also undertook NIRMAN, a local NGO of Nayagarh wonderful that SSI is getting such wide
the SSI practices. Especially, Shri. Sucha district, Orissa, underwent the publicity and as soon as the Manual
Singh Langah, the Hon’ble Minister for training in the month of January. was released, word came from the Chief
Agriculture, Government of Punjab has After the completion of the Minister and meetings were convened
shown keen interest and has taken up programme, the farmers appreciated the very next day with the Assistant
the cost effective SSI practices and Cane Commissioners and Managing
showed keen interest in taking up SSI Directors as well as managers of mills,
Efforts taken in 4 acres under rainfed conditions. both public and private, to discuss at
Materials like bud-chippers, trays Support in terms of materials like greater length the SSI methods and how
and coco-pith were distributed to shade net shed, plastic trays and to disseminate the information. Eminent
to take it up in a limited area to begin
with in the forthcoming season.
Further follow up and progress
Some support in terms of trays and
were given during the month of
July 2009, to kick start the process
of establishing bud chip nursery
Subsequently, a two-day meeting
was organized at Koutha B village
of Bidar on 17th and 18th September
2009, in order to initiate the planting
in the coming October season.
Shri. Laxmi Narayana, Cane Comissioner, Govt. of AP, lighting the ceremonial
Management Practices for Improving Productivity in Sugarcane’ at Hyderabad in the programme organized by
in the month of August 2009. Outreach. Six farmers and three
staff members from AME, another
reputed NGO based in Bangalore
sugarcane scientists Dr. Hapse and and working in the Dharwad Nov ‘09
Dr. N.V Naidu participated and shared farmer, Mr. Manik Reddy. district also participated.
their experiences with the farmers.
Future developments The Chief Guest of the function, the
appreciated by the sugarcane experts Mr. Anji Reddy is planning to Assistant General Manager (AGM)
establish a bigger nursery to of NABARD, encouraged the women
cost of cultivation and improvement supply bud chip seedlings to other members of Self-Help-Groups to
farmers as additional income take up the bud chip nursery as
deliberations. generating activity. an income generating activity. He
The present situation Plans are on to bring in more to raise the shade net shed and
Mr. Anji Reddy, whose case history farmers under SSI with support procurement of required materials
is carried in this newsletter, has from the State Government and to initiate it as a group activity.
acres more, during the month of Nursery activities were initiated
June. This he has done by raising Kakatiya Sugars is planing to
his own nursery. this autumn season.
He has planted soya bean as Future developments
intercrop in both the plots. The Karnataka More training programmes in
cane crop shows healthy growth Karnataka is also another state with other nearby districts like Bijapur,
high productivity of cane (88t/ha Bagalkote etc., will be taken up.
tillers (on an average) in each of in 2007). It is known for its rich belt
the clumps. of sugarcane farming, thanks to the Demonstration plots will be
Cauvery River basin. Six farmers and established in at least one acre
two staff members from Outreach, in each district with the technical
visitors, be it farmers, staff of a well known Bangalore based NGO support of ICRISAT-WWF project.
sugar industries from neighbouring working in the Bidar district of Karna-
Publication of Manuals in local
to undergo training during March this languages will be taken up in the
The crop performance is equally year. They found the SSI methods to be near future with support from
good under sub-surface drip very innovative and expressed interest NABARD.
Tamil Nadu their selection of 11-month old practices shows that the sugarcane
canes, there were no such issues farming community has received the
SSI methodology well. The ongoing
(2007). The state is known for its well performance of the crop is quite
organized cooperative and private Presently, crops look healthy with
sugar mills. Eight farmers (two an average of 18 tillers per clump. compared to the crops being cultivated
supported by Ponni Sugars, Erode in the conventional methods.
and six from SRI Farmers’ Association, On 22nd June 2009, an awareness
Thumbal, Salem district) attended a programme on SSI was organized at
2-day training programme on SSI in Thumbal with the support of the SRI that the present signs are indicators
the month of May 2009. Farmers’ Association, sponsored by of a good harvest. More data
NABARD. and information with regard to
Progress so far improvement in yields and savings
Nursery materials to cover an area Needed support was assured in inputs will be shared in this
of 10 acres were provided to the from AGM, NABARD for the SSI newsletter in the coming months.
Salem farmers on their request. trainings in the state. With the support from farmers, mills,
NGOs and government agencies
Planting was initiated in an area Conclusion
It is quite encouraging to note the
Baskaran and Mr. Vinod during wide adoption of SSI methods by the sugarcane sector of India in the
June-July 2009. farmers, millers and government future.
agencies alike. The fact that almost
all the farmers who underwent the Dr. N. Loganandhan is the Visiting Scientist
observed in the nursery due to training in SSI methods adopted the at ICRISAT-WWF Project
(7) Do bio-control of pests. Instead of conducive for stubble growth.
applying pesticides, learn to apply Cut the canes close to the ground
Sweet Revolution... biological methods of minimizing level.
(Contd. from page 9) pest damage to your crop. An
So: Neo-agriculture is not only saving
Lady bugs are predators of aphids, on water but also saving on fertilizer,
Do alternate furrow mites, scale insects (Erv Evans, saving on seed, saving on cost,
irrigation to minimize water loss, NC State U, ces.ncsu.edu), and
or employ a drip irrigation system. caterpillars (Washington State U, pollution of the soil, water and air.
Drip irrigation is where you get spokane-county.wsu.edu). This is a paradigm shift in thinking
agriculture. I can imagine that neo-
(8) Intercrop. You can intercrop agriculture is also good for other
Go organic. Gradually switch from wheat, potato, cowpea, French high-value crops like hybrid rice,
inorganic to organic manures and bean, chickpea, watermelon and fancy rice, tropical fruits, vegetables,
bio-fertilizers. These are natural many other crops with sugarcane
materials and do not pose any with your wider spacing between climate in understanding agriculture.
danger to the crop or soil. Organic rows and hills. Aside from the Biksham Gujja imagines SSI will
methods help directly reduce the extra income, the intercrops will
carbon footprint of sugarcane help control weed growth because in India. Beyond SSI, I am already
farming by reducing use of farm of the combined denser canopy of imagining Sweet Revolution! 2009.
chemicals that require fossil fuels the crops, depriving the weeds of
that emit carbon dioxide in their sunlight.
production. Organic methods also Frank A.Hilario is a popular Filipino writer
who is known for his extensive writings on
help build soil, not only add to its (9) Ratoon. Harvest the plant crop issues of agriculture and other
fertility. when weather conditions are world concerns
As a consequence, the period
SSI: A New Experience for tillering phase is reduced
in Sugarcane Cultivation
the distance between two rows is
This causes competition for sun
industry and farmers. And now, encouraged by the results, they plan to light and air among the tillers,
which in turn causes severe tiller
mortality and heterogeneous cane.
Shri. P. K. Singh It is not that the new technologies Inadequate and imbalanced ferti-
tried have not given results, but the lizer dosage with more focus on
Background fact remains that even after giving use of Nitrogenous Fertilizer.
The role of sugarcane in uplifting rural results, those technologies could not
economy particularly in the Northern be further scaled up. This is either Over dependence on monsoons
plains of India is well accepted. Even due to some adaptability issue or is adversely affecting the yields
especially in the case of failure
cane has over the years lost its place understand or even due to last minute of or variation in the monsoon
cost enhancement. It is important pattern.
farmers today consider sugarcane that the technology is farmer friendly,
as one of many alternatives. Several economical and easy to implement in Lower yields in ratoons due to Nov ‘09
factors can be attributed for this order to improve yields on a sustainable improper ratoon management
basis. However, before getting into practices.
reduction in returns per unit area the technological aspects, it is better
of sugarcane, in spite of increase in to understand the problems and the Irrigation method followed led not
cane prices. This is mainly because of factors affecting cane yield in U.P. only to wastage of water but also
lower yields and increase in the cost Lower yields in U.P can be attributed created anaerobic condition in the
of inputs. to the following factors:-
affect the frequency of irrigation.
The paying capacities of the factories most of the planting is done
have also dwindled because of lower after the harvest of wheat in the There are several other factors
sugar recovery, affecting the cane month of April and May, thus
payment to farmers which has reducing the life span of the crop. quality, use of organic manure, plant
further aggravated the situation.
the farmer in sugarcane can only
be restored if he is sure of better
returns on sustainable basis. The
three variables affecting the returns
are yield per unit area, cost of
cultivation and certainly the price
of the output. The third variable is
largely dependent on many volatile
factors and Government polices,
which are generally not in the hands
of the farming community and the
i.e. yield and cost of production
can certainly be addressed. Several
attempts have been made in the
past and some new ones are being
tried for improving yields.
protection measures etc., which are distinct difference is visible between the
also attributed to lower yields. As a SSI plots and the conventional plots.
result of these factors, not only is the
individual cane weight very low (at an Results
Following are some of the observations
the number of millable canes per unit from the SSI trials:-
Enhanced number of millable canes/
the average yield ranges from a mere clump (8 Millable canes per clump
of U.P. Until and unless farmers start
getting a yield of 100 tonnes/ha on a millable canes which is the actual
sustainable basis, the future of sugar Reducing water requirement by potential of the technology)
industry will remain uncertain and
India might end up becoming the net Increase in the girth of each cane
importer of sugar.
Before taking this technology to the
In view of the above facts and
replicability issues of the potential method will be tested in the Triveni
technologies, the possibility of getting mill farms, located in different units.
a yield at the above mentioned level
in larger area was a distant dream.
But that was until SSI, the sugarcane Deoband in Saharanpur, Sabitgarh Homogeneous cane in SSI with
version of SRI came into the picture. in Bulandshahar and Chandanpur in uniform height and girth as against
J.P Nagar. Apart from adaptability of canes of varied height and girth in
Opportunities offered by SSI SSI, effort was dedicated to study the the conventional plot
The following opportunities in this impact of the following variables:-
technology are immediately apparent:- Impact of various spacings on the Net reduction in irrigation hours
Nov ‘09 Addresses the issue of late plant- performance of SSI and this in spite of increased
ing by raising seedlings and their frequency of irrigation
transplantation later on which act-
ually advances the entire process North- South Vs. East -West The average weight per cane is
Addresses the issue of narrow Impact of Ammonium Sulphate in
spacing as the technology is based the place of Urea harvest. Being new to the technology,
on successful exploitation of some errors occurred inadvertently
sunlight and air by following wider Impact of organic farming by using or else the performance would have
Nava Dhanya and Amritpani been even better
Addresses the problem of improper Performance of different seed Learnings:
method of irrigation, namely, Some of the learnings to enhance the
budded setts performance, experienced as part of
the process need to be mentioned:-
Effect of different intercrops on SSI Selection of bud while chipping
requirement, as only the bud is and for use as seed material is very
used as seed material Effect of Drip Irrigation important
With this background, Triveni colla- Varietal interaction with SSI Grading at 20-22 days’ stages
should be done very cautiously
Project for studying the feasibility One treatment of conventional method
of this technology in U.P. with the as control was also under taken to study In no case should weak seedlings
following terms of reference: the net gains and all expenses incurred be transplanted
Initial target yield of 90 tonnes/ are recorded for each treatment.
Although there are still almost 4 more Pocket application of fertilizer
tonnes/ha months left to harvest the crop, a improves its uptake and effect
Minister with a as a part of which he began the chip
bud nursery in March of this year.
farmer’s heart and soul He has been actively involved in the
propagation of the SSI methods to
The crisis in conventional sugarcane cultivation in Punjab other farmers in the state, bringing
has been becoming more and more acute every year. It is more and more focus through
hardly surprising then that the farmers in the state are more the media. His keen interest in SSI
than willing to experiment with the new method of SSI for prompted him to visit the ICRISAT-
improved production and overall productivity of sugarcane.
scientists to further enhance his
Dr. Amrik Singh The benefits – both short term knowledge. It was during this visit
and long term – of SSI were so that he was able to participate in
easily apparent that Shri. Sucha
years old, has been the Minister of Singh Langah, the Minister for Trainer’s Manual.
Agriculture for the State of Punjab Agriculture, Government of
Punjab, who himself is a farmer, As the minister is new to this method,
took up SSI in his fields and is he has been encountering problems
taken up cultivation of sugarcane and today the greatest advocate of in implementing the SSI practices in
SSI in his state.
His introduction to the SSI methods late May, a little later than the other
came when he was invited to attend farmers, the growth of cane was slower,
a four-day Agriculture Development though the tillering is quite good at an
Exhibition and Workshop, organized Nov ‘09
by the Agricultural Technology 8-10 tillers in the conventional method. 17
Management Agency (ATMA), Speaking about the SSI methods and
Gurdaspur under the aegis of Dr. practices, Shri. Sucha Singh Langah
Amrik Singh, Deputy Project Director, says, “As a farmer and the Minister
ATMA, Gurdaspur who gave a detailed for Agriculture, I understand that SSI
presentation of the SSI methods.
Shri. Langah was so impressed with Hon’ble Punjab Agriculture Minister Punjab”.
the possibilities of this new method Shri. Sucha Singh (right) with the Director
that he decided to implement it on General of ICRISAT, Dr. William Dar (left) Dr. Amrik Singh is the Deputy Project
an experimental basis in 1½ acres during the SSI Training Manual release Director, ATMA at Gurdaspur
Light earthing up is essential technology. Encouraged by the initial the concerns of farmers, industry
for increasing tillering. Proper response, Triveni is now providing and the ecological activists. The
compaction of earth near the stem the raised plantlets to the farmers to Government agencies and Agriculture
is real earthing up or else there is Universities should certainly adopt
no use of earthing up stage, the nursery raising activity will and take forward this technology,
which has been invented by the
With certain precautions and part of the next phase as a strategy farmers themselves.
for scaling up this technology.
comes naturally with experience - Encouraged by the results in the
the technology can very well give a Transporting coco pith from South trial plots, Triveni is now scaling it up
India is the only concern, as it
on experimental plots but on mass increases the cost of nursery raising.
scale also. Wider spacing of rows Already other alternatives to coco
eases the entire activity taken up, as pith are being explored, which shall already been initiated and the planting
further reduce the cost. will be done in November 2009.
for movement and reduced number
of rows to work. Hence, SSI is a This technology is seen as a suitable P.K. Singh is the General Manager (Cane),
very easy to use and farmer friendly and promising alternative to address Triveni sugars
Nayagarh District of Orissa
Though the farmers of Orissa have been into sugarcane cultivation
for a long time now, SSI is a new arena into which these farmers are
stepping in with caution but also happiness in their hearts. Below is
the intervention of ICRISAT-WWF in extending the necessary technical
Sraban Kumar Dalai and Arundhati Jena
Overview in yield beyond 70 t/ha, even though
the area under sugarcane has more
the forest area, with a population of
A Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative
rainfall of 1449.1 mm. (SSI) training was organized along problems were encountered here due
with practical demonstrations at to ant, termite and rat infestation.
There are six sugar mills in Orissa WWF-ICRISAT, followed by a field
which are in operation, including the visit on January 20-21, 2009. Four Later, coco-pith was prepared at
Nayagarh Sugar Complex Pvt. Ltd farmers from Nayagarh district of
in Nayagarh. Now, according to the Orissa attended it. Apart from these waste and vermi-compost. During
State Government and Team Orissa (a the months of February and March,
State Government agency working on motivated by the SSI methods. farmers started raising a nursery in
industrial promotion) Report, there They are all marginal and small
are going to be 14 sugar projects land holding sugarcane farmers. under the supervision of their staff.
Nov ‘09 in the state. Also, it is interesting to A total of 4 acres were brought The nursery seedlings were healthy
note that the paddy area has been under cultivation using this method and the transplantation was done
increasingly diverted to non-paddy in Biruda, Ikiri, Tipura villages of during the last week of March and
Nayagarh district with the support
2007 in the state. Sugarcane is one of NIRMAN, a local NGO. three farmers initiated intercropping
of the preferred crops for diversion, Bhendi or
replacing paddy. Area diverted The materials used for raising nursery Okra) crop.
to sugarcane crop during kharif like bud chipper, shade net shed, trays
and a small quantity of coco-pith Results
hectares in the above mentioned were provided through the WWF-
years respectively. If the statistics of ICRISAT project to kick start the
sugarcane area and productivity in SSI adoption in Orissa. In the initial
Nayagarh district were to be observed period, farmers used decomposed
for the last 8 years, it shows that the sawdust, coir waste, vermi-compost,
ha. And there was no improvement acre land in their backyard. Some inches, and the height of canes varies
NIRMAN has conducted meetings
4000 in two villages of Khairapati and
Yield (t/ha) Gopalpur where 7 farmers from the
former village agreed to go for SSI
Area (in ha)
10 latter village agreed to go for it in
1999-00 2000-01 2001-02 2007-08
are planned in the remaining 12