Sugarcane Production and Development of Sugar Industry in India
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The Indian sugar industry, second largest in the world, is a key driver of rural development, supporting India’s economic growth. The industry is inherently inclusive supporting over 6 million farmers and their families, along with workers and entrepreneurs of over 550 sugar mills, apart from a host of wholesalers and distributors spread across the country. Contribution of sugarcane to the national GDP is 1.1% which is significant considering that the crop is grown only in 2.57% of the gross cropped area. In India sugar is an essential item of mass consumption, and the domestic demand is around 25 million tonnes per annum. Sugar and jaggery are the cheapest source of energy, supplying around 10% of the daily calorie intake. Sugarcane has been projected as the crop for the future, contributing to the production of not only sugar but also a renewable source of green energy in the form of bioethanol, bioelectricity and many biobased products. The industry produces 350–365 million tons (Mt) cane, 25–27 Mt white sugar and 6–8 Mt jaggery and khandsari every year. Besides, about 2.7 billion litres of alcohol and 5500 MW of power and many chemicals are also produced. The industry is able to export around 3200 MW of power to the grid. The major challenges for sugarcane agriculture is static sugarcane productivity (70 tons/ha) and sugar recovery (10%) at national level. The Indian sugar industry is fully capable of meeting demand of potable alcohol as well as 5% blending in gasoline. Industry is gradually transforming into sugar complexes by producing sugar, bioelectricity, bioethanol, biomanure and chemicals. Emergent businesses like fuel ethanol, raw sugar and structural changes in global market have provided new horizons for the Indian sugar industry. The sector today not only has transformational opportunities that would enable it to continue to service the largest domestic markets but has also emerged as a significant carbon credit and green power producer and has potential to support ethanol blending programme of E10 and beyond. The sugar industry is gearing up to meet the challenges of 2030 through judicious integration of agro-technology, improved management practices, diversification and farmers’ friendly policies. The crop besides providing the food and energy needs of the country also contributes to employment and revenue generation, social development and environmental safety. Because of the manifold benefits from the crop and its wide and varied uses, sugarcane agriculture will remain a major contributor to the sustainable development of sugar industry in India.