After rice, Andhra looks at sugarcane cultivation

Hyderabad, Nov 26 | Updated: Nov 27 2006, 06:28am hrs
After the success of rice cultivation through the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the Andhra Pradesh governmentthrough the directorate of sugaris hoping to expand this practice for cultivation of sugarcane as well.

Till date, about 3,000 acres have been marked for this mode of cultivation, which is called sugarcane renewed intensification system.

SRI cultivation has proved beneficial, its advantages include less usage of water, less expenditure, control over pests and insects, it is useful for inter-cropping system with more yield. According to Alwarswamy, a progressive farmer from Kundur in Krishna district and representative of the Federation of Farmers Association, expressed that through this practice, the seed rate will lower and there are more number of tillers, which in turn will improve the yield.

In fact, he has started supplying seedlings for about 2,000 acres to growers in the state and is in the process of imparting training to farmers in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra. So what is the difference In the conventional method, the seed requirement per hectare is about 10 tonne as opposed to just one tonne in this system. As Algarswamy points out, if the remaining nine tonne of seed is converted into sugar, about nine quintal of sugar can be obtained.

Looking at the trend, sugarcane is cultivated in about 2.10 lakh hectare in the state and out of 2.10 lakh, about 1.10 lakh are still in the seedling stage.

We can save more than 40% water through this mode of cultivation as opposed to conventional cultivation practices. The average yield per hectare is about 150 tonne, and at time with best practices, it is over 200 tonne. The savings per acre for sugarcane growers is close to Rs 4,000. Another interesting factor is that the seed cost is also considerably reduced. In the conventional method, the seed cost comes to Rs 5,000 per acre as against Rs 500 per acre in SRI cultivation.

This form of cultivation is a proven method, which can produce higher yields and can be achieved through better combination of plant, soil, water and nutrient management practices, say agriculture department officials.

Basically, SRI involves a set of principles to get more yield from any genotype which includes early transplanting, careful transplanting, wide spacing, weeding and aeration, water management and compost.