Precision Ag Technology Helps Mitigage Indian Sugar Industry Woes
NubeSol Technologies, a precision agriculture start-up focussing on the sugar industry, has made an early forecast predicting a decline of 32 per cent in sugarcane supply for FY 2016-17 compared to FY2015-16 season, according to a report on FNBNews.com.
This is based on an analysis of remote-sensed data, ground surveys and information gathered from industries and farmers. A total of 14.2+ lakh acres of land under sugarcane cultivation is estimated in over 21 districts of Karnataka.
Bidar, Kalaburagi and Vijayapura are the most affected districts. The decline of the sugarcane yield is attributed to 14 per cent shortage of new plantations. There have been only 1:100 sugarcane plots going for new planting as compared to 20:100 ratio recorded earlier. In addition there has been an extended thermal stress. Sugarcane plots have experienced extended thermal stress caused due to long dry spells, which has affected the growth and yield potential for the season. In eight per cent fallow lands, the farmers have removed the sugarcane and are waiting for the onset of monsoon.
At a macroeconomic level, sugar factories had around 20 per cent less cane to crush this year compared to last year. Most affected districts are Bidar, Kalaburagi and Vijayapura. About 30 per cent of the 65 factories have crushed cane for less than 120 days. Sugar factories have incurred high harvest and transport costs as they picked up cane from as far as 100-120 km from the factory, as against a profitable zone of 30-35 km.
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The water-intensive crop has been hit by water scarcity in major cane-growing areas in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Availability and prices of sugar has become a matter of speculation. Moreover, factories depend only on the traditional and manual way of surveying cane availability, which may not be accurate. They overlook the cane available in and around the factory due to lack of information.
As the sugar industry grapples with problems that have adversely impacted both the top and bottom lines, a ray of hope comes from the emerging concept of precision agriculture. It can provide effective solutions to alleviate the problems faced by the sugarcane industry today.