With the changing time, sugar mills need to find out a way to utilize resources by diversifying portfolio to production of ethanol and others: Sharad Pawar

At the inauguration ceremony of the 3rd International Sugar Conference organized by Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI), its President, Sharad Pawar said that around 50 million farmers are engaged in sugarcane cultivation on an area of 5 million hectares. This sector faces various challenges of biotic and abiotic nature along with infrastructural issues. These issues can be addressed by evolving a farm management system that employs the latest tools like artificial intelligent, sensor technology, GIS, robotics etc. I am confident that precision agriculture can best be brought about by introducing this latest technology so as to create the farm of the future. Considering national commitment for food security and the requirement of land for food grain crops, with this emerging technology, we can achieve enhanced productivity per unit of land and higher sugar recovery.

He said, “I also see the need to give more impetus on bio-technology, nano-technology, molecular biology, next generation sequencing of genome and transgenic technology as the sugar production is affected by climate change, resulting in reducing the yield of sugarcane. Another important factor is that, sugar mills have been increasing the crushing capacity year by year with almost same sugarcane production, resulting in shortening crushing period from 160 days to 120 days. Therefore, around 200 days, the entire sugar mill machinery and manpower remains idle during the crushing season resulting in overheads and production costs. With the changing time, the sugar mills need to find out a way to utilize resources by diversifying portfolio to production of ethanol, Compressed BioGas (CBG), Hydrogen, aviation fuel and other products etc.”

Pawar also appreciated Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for his proactive policy of Ethanol Blending. The sugar industry has made substantial investment and supplied 5,000 million liters ethanol in the last year and achieved 12% blending. The sugar mills have generated revenue to the tune of Rs. 940 billions from the sale of ethanol. This programme has enabled the Government to save about Rs. 240 billion of foreign exchange. “I am only concerned with the policy fluctuations that impacts new establishments of ethanol production. Once such notification from Directorate of Sugar directing not use sugarcane juice and syrup for ethanol had created ripples in sugar mills and distilleries. I express thanks to the Central Government for immediately taking corrective action, It was the sigh of relief for the industry,” he further added.

VSI President said that apart from Ethanol blending, we are looking forward to adopt newer technologies like Green Hydrogen which is destined to be the fuel of future. The Green Hydrogen is a amazingly cleaner and efficient fuel as on combustion it produces only water instead of CO2 and also gives three times better mileage. I would urge the scientific community to make it affordable. In sugar industry, the Institute is exploring the possibilities of using electric power available from co-generation to produce Green Hydrogen by using water electrolysis and I would request to visit the demo plant showcased in this exhibition.

This conference has received overwhelming response from scientists, research scholars, cane growers and manufacturers across the world. Eminent scholars, researchers and cane growers from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Fiji, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malawi, Nigeria, Netherland, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, USA, UK, Uganda and Vietnam are attending the conference.

Jaiprakash Dandegaonkar, President, National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories Ltd.; P.R. Patil, Chairman, Maharashtra Rajya SSK Sangh Ltd.; Members of Parliament Loksbha and Rajyasabha; Members of Legislative Assembly and Members of Legislative Council; Guilherme Nastari, Director, DATAGRO, São Paulo, Brazil; Dr. Germán Serino, Secretary, International Consortium of Sugarcane Biotechnology (ICSB), Argentina; Dr. Michael Butterfield, Scientific Affairs Manager, CTC, São Paulo, Brazil; Sanjay Awasthi, Chairman, ISSCT Council and President, The Sugar Technologists Association of India (STAI); S.B. Bhad, President, Deccan Sugar Technologists Association (DSTA); N Chinappan, President, The South Indian Sugarcane & Sugar Technologists Association (SISSTA); Members the Trustees and members of the Governing Council of the Institute; Chairmen, Board of Directors and Managing Directors of co-operative sugar mills and of private sugar mills; Heads of Research Organizations; Distinguished speakers; Sponsors; Exhibitors; Participants; and sugarcane growers are attending the conference.

VSI is organizing its 3rd International Conference and Exhibition on “Sustainability: Challenges & Opportunities in Global Sugar Industry” from January 12 to January 14, 2024 at its Manjari campus in Pune.

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