Sugarcane will become an increasingly important crop in India due to increasing demand from sugar consumers and an expansion in the use of sugar-based biofuels. Sugarcane cultivation needs to change radically in order to increase yields and sustainably meet this demand. The Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI), initiated by AgSri, is facilitating this transformation with small holders on the ground in the sugarcane growing regions of India.
The SSI technique introduces a number of simple innovations that save a great deal of water compared to prevailing practice in sugarcane cultivation. Most significantly, SSI teaches farmers to plant month old seedlings directly into the field. By raising seedlings in nurseries and transplanting after one month, close to 90% of the water can be conserved.
Furthermore, seedlings are planted in a regular, widely spaced pattern increasing the health of the plants and yield per hectare while also allowing farmers to use drip irrigation technology. Using these recommended techniques enables farmers to save a significant amount of water while also raising their incomes.
Using revenue from Water Benefit Certificate sales, the project developer AgSri will expand the project. It aims to expand from 1500 farmers currently using the technique to 20,000 in five years. It will also use the funds to subsidise the cost of seedlings for farmers to encourage wider participation, and develop educational campaigns.
The Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative:
- Increases sugarcane yields by at least 20% with a 25% reduction in chemical inputs.
- Creates rural jobs - especially for women as it employs them in the seedling manufacturing process
- Saves large quantities of water and upsurges productivity – 940,000 m3 of water saved annually
- Increases smallholder income – For example, the wide spacing of cane allows for intercropping vegetables, enhancing income and providing an additional source of nutrition.
- Aims to expand from 1500 farmers currently using the technique to 20,000 in five years
- Has potential for scale. India is the second largest sugarcane producer in the world. Sugar is a 6 billion dollar industry and represents the principle livelihoods of 35 million farmers. Another 50 million depend on employment generated by sugar factories and other sugar related industries.
For more information and the project documentation>>