Expert suggests sugar factories to use drone to assess crop conditions

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Many sugar mills in India are suffering from the financial crisis. Experts suggest that not only sugar production but they need to emphasis on various parameters in order to improve their financial condition. On the same line, two days online training programme on “Supply Chain Management in Sugar & Allied Industries” organized by the institute commenced today. In his opening remarks Prof. Narendra Mohan, Director, National Sugar Institute highlighted the importance of training in light of Covid-19 scenario for ensuring smooth working of sugar factories and distilleries. Keeping in view the various restrictions, it is important to device and adopt proper methodology for ensuring supplies to and from the units, he said. About 20,000-25,000 farmers supply sugarcane to a factory and with 24 hours delay in crushing, the sugar content may reduce by about 5-10% depending upon the climatic conditions. He called upon greater use of information & communication technology for assessing maturity of sugarcane, scheduling its harvest and arranging supply. Drones are very common nowadays and sugar factories can also use them for assessing the crop conditions, he said. He also focussed on sugar warehouse management through adoption of radio frequency identification tags to sell the sugar on “first in-first out” basis.

Mr. Swaminathan Arunachalam, Director (Operations-India), M/s Givaudan (India) Pvt. Ltd. highlighted the importance of certification of sugar for quality control, facilitating exports and also for consumer protection point of view. Since, ours is a sugar surplus country which is trying to export sugar to other countries, besides ISO 22000 & FSSAI certifications, under the present circumstances of Covid-19, it is important for the sugar industry to comply with IFS (International Food Standards) and SQF (Safe Quality Food) standards. Elaborating the importance of certifications, he said, “it improves customer trust and brand reliability besides protecting consumers from false and misleading claims.”
Dr. N R Murali, General Manager, Africa Projects while speaking on sugarcane supply management presented overview of different supply systems, transport of cane through boat, rail, bullock cart, tractor trolleys and trucks. Due to scarcity of farm labour, sugar industry is going to face challenges and farm mechanization is going to become important. The harvesting and transport costs are about Rs. 1000-1200 per ton which may increase further. Looking to the small land holdings and capacity of the farmers to invest, there is need for developing tractor mounted cane harvesters, de-trashing machines and cane-loaders.

Dr GSC Rao, Managing Director, M/s Global Canesugar Services discussed about application of latest tools and technologies for efficient management of supply chain in sugar sector. He advocated use of mobile based e-learning apps for farmers and man-less weighment of sugarcane using smart cards. GPS installed vehicles are important for better tracking of supplies from and to sugar factories and distilleries and need to be implemented, he stressed. On output side, he also stressed upon need for hygienic consumer packing of sugar for branding, surety of weight and longer shelf life.

The programme which is being attended by over 200 participants including those from Kenya and Nigeria was conducted by Shri Brajesh Singh, Technical Officer and Course Convener.

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