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An Expert System for Disorder Diagnosis in Sugarcane Crop


Sugarcane Utilisation in India

Sugarcane is a multi-product crop and has immense potential for diversification. Besides the sugar is produced as main product, after cane processing, green top of sugarcane is used as fodder for milch cattle; molasses, a by-product of cane processing is also used as a cattle feed. The enormous fuel potential of sugarcane is being utilized by both sugar mills and gur and khandsari processing units. Bagasse, the left over ligno-cellulosic material after the extraction of juice, is used as fuel for boiling the juice and running the boilers for co-generation. In fact, it is the bagasse that has made the sugar mill a self-sustained unit in terms of energy requirement. The filter mud, another by-product of sugar processing is utilized as manure.

Moreover, sugarcane in the prevailing cropping systems is one of the most important crops that has sustaining capacity to maintain soil health and crop productivity. Despite being heavy feeder of soil nutrients, sugarcane with its high root bio- mass improves soil condition. Association of beneficial microorganisms like Acetobacter (helps in nitrogen fixation, growth promotion), Mycorrhiza (P solubilization and increased nutrient availability) helps in sustaining the soil fertility and reduces the dependence on chemical fertilizers.

During 2012-13, about 25 million tonnes of sugar was produced in this country, which was nearly 11.8 per cent of the total sugar production of the world. In India, there are two distinct agro-climatic zones for sugarcane cultivation, tropical-south and subtropical-north. Subtropical-north while comprising 60 per cent of total cane area contributes only 48 per cent to total cane and 37 per cent to total white sugar production in the country. The lower cane productivity and sugar recovery in subtropica- north-zone is the main cause of lower short of national pool of total cane & sugar production. The average cane productivity in subtropical north zone was 54.7 and 56.4 tonnes/hectare in comparison to 81.9 and 80.8 tonnes/hectare in tropical south zone (2009-10 and 2010-11, respectively).

According to estimates of the National Commission on Agriculture (1976) and estimations by various agencies, the population of the country is expected to reach 1.5 billion by 2030 AD at the present compound growth rate of 1.6 per cent per annum. It is estimated that the per capita sugar consumption is likely to increase and may go up to 35 kg per year (both white sugar and gur) by 2030 AD. At this rate of consumption and expected rise in population, the country may require nearly 52 million tonnes of sweeteners by 2030 AD. With decreasing trends in gur and khandsari production, the demand for white sugar is likely to increase to 33 million tonnes by 2030 AD. The emerging energy requirement may need successive increase of ethanol blending in petrol and this will require additional sugarcane over and above the cane requirement to produce 33 million tonnes of sugar. In order to meet the growing demand of sugar and energy by 2030 AD in India, around 520 million tonnes of sugarcane has to be produced on most possible available land of about 5.5 million ha with a recovery of 10.75 per cent in sugar mills.

The emerging scenario of sugarcane as the renewable energy crop in India for the production of ethanol, as a supplement to the fossil fuel is another dimension pf pressing need the sugarcane production further. Due to its renewable energy potential, sugarcane has become the preferred choice, since the Brazilian venture in early 1980's in the production and utilization of ethanol as fuel blend with petrol for running automobiles. Brazil has made a major stride in this direction and presently diverts 50 per cent of its sugarcane for ethanol production.
In India, molasses, a by-product of sugarcane processing for sugar, will remain the main raw material for ethanol production. Bagasse, the other by product of sugarcane processing will continue to remain as the basic raw material for co-generation of power in sugar mills. In fact, by 2030 AD it is visualized that every sugar mill in India will be modified as the energy-producing hub in the rural sector, giving boost to the rural economy thereby playing a major catalytic role in the socio-economic transformation of rural India.

So, sugarcane sector in India has to gear up to the new challenges of higher cane requirement to meet the future requirement. With the present trend of sugarcane and sugar production, India will hardly be able to meet 75 per cent of the projected requirement. Therefore, a sustained effort is needed to increase the cane production to such a level that India becomes a sugarcane surplus country.


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