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Zonal Breeders’ Meet of AICRP on Sugarcane held at ICAR-IISR, Lucknow on 23rd January, 2017

Zonal Breeders’ Meet was organized at ICAR-Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow to finalize the sugarcane genotypes for the Advanced Varietal Trials. About 100 scientists, state cane development officials and sugarcane breeders from various research institutes, universities, centres working under AICRP(S) comprising four zones viz. North-West Zone- states of Punjab, Haryana, Western and Central Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan; North-Central Zone- Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal; North-East Zone- Assam and Nagaland and East-Coast Zone -states of Orissa, coastal Andhra Pradesh and coastal Tamil Nadu participated in the Zonal Breeders’ Meet.

At the outset, Dr. S.K. Shukla Project Coordinator (Sugarcane) accorded warm welcome of all the delegates and stressed upon development of short duration and high sugar sugarcane varieties to increase the sugar productivity per unit area and time. He also emphasized that through effective dissemination of technology the time gap between development of a sugarcane variety by the breeders and its adoption by the farmers on larger scale could be reduced.

Sri Vipin Kumar Dwivedi, Commissioner, Sugarcane Development and Sugar Industry, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh was the Chief Guest of the function. He mentioned that with an average sugar recovery of 10.75 per cent, about 520 million tonnes of sugarcane will have to be produced by 2030 and this will entail an increase in sugarcane productivity to the tune of 100 to 110 tonne/ha, as area may stabilize around 5 million hectares. The productivity of subtropical zone (61.7 t/ha) is less as compared to tropical- South (81.4 t/ha), indicating greater scope of improvement. But still it needs to be taken up aggressively by making a collaborative approach at Research and Development front.

He stressed upon the need of quick seed replacement through high yielding sugarcane to maximize sugarcane yield and sugar recovery. The sugarcane varieties developed under the umbrella of AICRP on Sugarcane and released by CVRC are now being recommended for cultivation in Uttar Pradesh. In recent past, the varieties like CoLk 94184 (Birendra) and Co 0238 did miracles in Uttar Pradesh. Efforts are required to minimize the time interval for a developed variety to reach the farmer’s field. For quick dispersal of seed material of an improved variety, a joint venture of research organizations, sugar mills and progressive farmers could be formed to ascertain quality seed cane production and its distribution among cane growers.

He emphasized the mechanization of sugarcane culture for quality and timely operations and to reduce the cost of production as well. The use of various machines/equipment for sugarcane cultivation like Sugarcane Cutter-Planter, Ratoon Management Device, Trench Planter, Seeder-cum-Sugarcane Planter may be facilitated on custom hire basis by sugar mills. In order to motivate the sugarcane farmers, certain privilege groups like hundred tonnes farmer’s group, seed cane farmers group etc., may be helpful.

In order to increase the farm income, the production technology for intercropping with short duration, high value inter-crops with sugarcane is to be developed. Furrow Irrigated Raised Bed system (FIRB) developed by Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow could be adopted for simultaneous planting of sugarcane and wheat to avoid cane yield loss in sugarcane plant crop and improve sugar recovery as well. He emphasized on water availability to sugarcane crop and mentioned that developing multi-ratooning varieties and sub-surface drip fertigation technology up to 3-4 ratoons will increase the farmers’ income and reduce the cost of production besides effective use of natural resources.

Dr. R.K. Singh, Assistant Director General (Commercial Crops), ICAR, New Delhi and Chairman of the inaugural function emphasized the breeders role in improving the crop productivity. He stressed the need for developing the sugarcane variety through participatory mode particularly under biotic and abiotic stress situations in changing climate scenario. Besides, he also felt need of multidisciplinary groups of scientists to address the farmers’ problems on fields and to improve crop productivity as well.

Dr. A.D. Pathak, Director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow presented the Institute’s research and development efforts for improving sugarcane productivity, farmers income and sugar recovery. He mentioned that area under sugarcane variety CoLk 94184 has occupied more than one lakh ha in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Seed Production Programme through collaboration of IISR and Bihar Govt. has improved the sugar recovery and sugarcane productivity in Bihar state by more than 10 tonnes/ha. He also mentioned that Institute has well developed module for jaggery making, mechanization of sugarcane culture and bioagents to reduce the cost of production and farmers income.

Dr. Bakshi Ram Director, ICAR- Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore and Principal Investigator, Crop Improvement presented overview of Breeders Meet and finalized the various entries for Advanced Varietal Trials to be taken up by the breeders in ensuing crop season. Dr. B.L. Sharma, Director, Uttar Pradesh Council of Sugarcane Research, Shahjahanpur gave the account of research and development activities taken up by the Institute for improving sugarcane productivity in Uttar Pradesh.

Dr. R.P. Yadav, Additional Cane Commissioner, Dr. R.C. Pathak, Dr. Satyendra Singh, Joint Cane Commissioners and Sri Ram Murti Singh, President, North Indian Sugarcane and Sugar Technologists Association (NISSTA) also expressed their views and expectations from sugarcane scientists for improving crop productivity, sugar recovery and farmers income. Dr. M. Swapna, Principal Scientist, Crop Improvement Division at IISR, Lucknow compared the inaugural function. Dr. G.K. Singh, Chief Technical Officer presented the Vote of Thanks.