Shri Shivajirao Deshmukh, IAS, Director General, Vasantdada Sugar Institute, Pune along with Shri Rajendra Bhaure, IAS visited ICAR-IISR, Lucknow on 29.09.2018. Both the dignitaries had in-depth interaction with the Institute scientists and took keen interest on the current status of sugarcane and sugar production activities being carried out in Uttar Pradesh. Shri Deshmukh highly applauded the research and development efforts of IISR, Lucknow by which the state of Uttar Pradesh has become the highest producer of sugarcane and sugar in India. He later on visited the Agricultural Engineering division of the Institute and saw there the number of machines particularly Sugarcane Cutter Planter developed for sugarcane cultivation. Mr. Deshmukh told that this machine is effectively addressing not only the concerns of sugarcane farmers in view of acute labour scarcity during sugarcane planting, but also reducing the cost of cultivation resulting accruing to higher net returns. He appreciated the efforts of Dr. A.K. Singh, HOD (Agril. Engineering) for developing other machines, namely, Ratoon Management Device for higher ratoon cane productivity and more specifically the Raised Bed Sugarcane Planter for planting not only the sugarcane but also the intercrops simultaneously for higher net returns per unit area and time besides mitigating the operational difficulties in the system. He expressed concerns on the cultivation of sugarcane under drought condition in Maharashtra, and accordingly requested the Director, IISR, Lucknow for suggesting some contingent plan, so that sugarcane farmers of the state could reap higher yield of sugarcane under drought condition. Mr. Deshmukh stressed the need for developing sugarbeet as a supplementary source of sweetener in Maharashtra under drought hit conditions, and for that he sought for a joint collaborative programme with IISR, Lucknow in near future. Mr. Bhaure reviewed the reasons for the highest ever production of sugarcane and sugar in Uttar Pradesh.
Dr. A.D. Pathak, Director, ICAR-IISR, Lucknow presented a brief presentation on the current sugarcane cultivation scenario in Maharashtra and suggested a contingent plan for sustaining sugarcane and sugar productivity under moisture stress conditions particularly in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. Dr. Pathak advised to reduce a sizeable area from adsali plantings due to the maximum irrigation requirement, and transfer some of that area in pre-seasonal plantings in September-October. In this way, sugarcane planting could be done successfully without irrigation by reaping the benefit of sufficient residual soil moisture after cessation of rains. He indicated that although the productivity of both sugarcane and sugar is higher under adsali planted crop, but it has the longest crop duration of 18 months, requiring 33-36 irrigations. On the other hand, pre-seasonal crop requires 22-27 irrigations. In addition to the benefits of growing pre-seasonal sugarcane in terms of water economy, it gives ample scope for inter-cropping of location specific winter/rabi season crops for enhanced productivity and profitability of the system. This can be a better and economically viable option rather than to grow rabi/winter season crops followed by suru sugarcane as sequential cropping. After harvesting of intercrops, the crop residues must be incorporated in between rows of sugarcane, so that it could be used as mulch for saving of soil moisture as well as for enhancing the soil fertility. Dr. Pathak informed that Uttar Pradesh has surpassed national average sugarcane yield and the state recorded 73.4 t/ha cane yield with sugar production over 12.0 m tonnes during 2017-18. Dr. Pathak also informed that this year, the country has attained a new height in sugar production by producing about 36 million tonnes. While coordinating the visit, Dr. S.N. Singh, Principal Scientist & Nodal Officer, ICAR-IISR Biological Control Centre, Pravaranagar (Maharashtra) told that the Institute has developed a technology called “cane node technology of sugarcane planting” for rapid multiplication of newly released varieties of sugarcane and also to cut down the cost on seed sugarcane material for higher net returns.