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Speaking as the chief guest at the National Seminar on “Mechanization in Sugarcane Agriculture – Challenges and Solutions” organized jointly by Indian Sugar Mills Association and ICAR-Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research at IISR, Lucknow, Prof. Vijay Paul Sharma, Chairman, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India termed mechanization of sugarcane cultivation as the need of the hour. Prof. Sharma highlighted two options for increasing farmers’ income viz., increasing sugarcane production and sugar recovery by adopting improved production technology and reducing its production. Prof. Sharma cited the human labour component as the biggest contributor to the cost of production. Prof. Sharma urged the Scientists to provide a complete package of mechanization of all agricultural activities from field preparation to sugarcane harvesting to the farmers and their promotion through cooperatives and FPOs and stressed on increasing the income of sugarcane farmers by setting up Farm Machinery Banks. Appreciating the contribution of ICAR-IISR for the development of number of farm machinery for performing various farm operations in sugarcane cultivation, Shri Sanjay R. Bhoosreddy, Additional Chief Secretary, Sugar Industry and Sugarcane Development, Government of U.P. discussed the significant progress made in the area, production and productivity of sugarcane, sugar production and sugar recovery in Uttar Pradesh. He highlighted that Farm Machinery Banks were established in U.P. during 2018-19 with two trash mulchers and one Ratoon Management Device, but today, 33 machines of 12-13 types are available in each bank. Mr. Bhoosreddy urged the farmers to adopt drip system of irrigation to save the expenditure on fertilizers and pesticides, and encouraged them for adopting mechanical harvesting of sugarcane in the state. He also highlighted the need of modifying the present policy of prevailing parchi system to cluster harvesting. Discussing the cyclical nature of sugar production prevailing in India, Sh. Subodh Kumar Singh, Additional Secretary (Sugar), Ministry of Food, Govt. of India said that sugar production in India has been increasing continuously for the last 5-6 years and India is also exporting sugar for the last few years. Expressing concern over only 4 percent of sugarcane being harvested in India by mechanical harvesters, Sh. Singh expressed the need for mechanization in sugarcane farming to increase the income of sugarcane farmers and sugar industry.

Dr. R. Viswanathan, Director, ICAR-IISR, Lucknow highlighted various farm machineries developed by the Institute for planting, weeding, earthing-up, spraying of pesticides, harvesting and ratoon management for the mechanization of sugarcane cultivation. He advised the farmers to reduce the cost of cultivation of sugarcane and increase their income by adopting them. At the outset, Mr. Aditya Jhunjhunwala, President, Indian Sugar Mill Association (ISMA) welcomed all the guests and participants and highlighted the importance of mechanical harvesters in India for sugarcane harvesting. He informed that the mechanical harvesters are very popular in Brazil, Thailand and Australia. In India, sugarcane harvesters are gaining popularity in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh but sugarcane is still harvested by labour in sub-tropical India. Sh. R.L. Tamak, Chairman, Sugarcane and Sugar Sub-Committee, ISMA presented an exhaustive presentation on “Transforming agriculture through mechanization.” Sh. Tamak expressed the view that mechanization in sugarcane cultivation would solve the problem of labour scarcity for various farm operations in India, timely execution of farm work, saving of time and money and benefits of proper ratoon management and appealed the policy makers of the central and state governments to make a proper policy in this regard., Dr. A.K. Singh, Principal Scientist and Organizing Secretary of the National Seminar gave detailed information about various agricultural machinery developed by the Institute for mechanization of sugarcane agriculture. Shri S. Mohanty, Director General, Indian Sugar Mill Association proposed the vote of thanks. About 300 delegates from different parts of the country including various office bearers of the Indian Sugar Mills Association, officials of sugar mills, leading manufacturers of agricultural machinery and sugarcane scientists from across the country participated in the seminar. Major agricultural machinery manufacturers like Shaktimaan and Mahindra & Mahindra also displayed various agricultural machinery including harvesters on the occasion. The status of mechanical harvesting of sugarcane in different parts of the country including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh were presented by Dr. Sushil Solomon, Mr. K. Nagendran, Mr. John Bosco, Mr. A.A. Zaidi, Mr. Senthil Kumar Chinnusamy, Mr. Mullapudi Narendranath. Status of mechanization in sugarcane agriculture was also presented by Shaktiman Agro, Mahindra and Mahindra and CNH Industrial.

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