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From the Director's Desk

On October 27, 2019 I have completed five years as the Director of the world fame prestigious research organization the ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute located at Coimbatore in the Tamil Nadu state. On this occasion I would like to put on record the salient achievements of the ICAR-SBI. Ever since its inception in 1912, the foremost objective of the Institute is to develop improved sugarcane varieties for different agro-climatic regions of the country. ‘Co’ canes, developed at the Institute, have contributed immensely not only in the country but also in 28 other countries, either as commercial cultivars or as parents in their hybridization programmes. Varieties play a major role (~70% contribution) in sugarcane production, productivity and sugar recovery. Therefore, area covered by varieties evolved by an institute is a strong parameter to judge the impact of the technologies of the institute. The Institute has evolved suitable varieties for both sugar industry and farmers (better performance with respect to two negatively associated traits, i.e. cane yield and sucrose content). On that very basis, both sugar industry and the farmers have shown faith on ICAR-SBI varieties. As a result, there has been tremendous increase in area of sugarcane varieties evolved by the institute. The area under Co varieties during 2014-15 was 32.96%, which increased to 36.43%, 49.84%, 59.94% and 70.06% during 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively. During the 2018-19 season, Co-varieties evolved by the Institute alone covered about 36.91 lakh hectare area (59.99% in tropical region and 75.22% in sub-tropical region) which is 70.06% of the total area under sugarcane in the country. Co 0238 and Co 86032 continued to be the predominant varieties during 2018-19 with about 66.1% and 47.3% area coverage in sub-tropical and tropical regions, respectively.

The main factor responsible for this trend is adoption of Co 0238, i.e. increase in area from 2.72 lakh ha (9.84%) during 2014-15 to 23.4 lakh ha (66.1%) during 2018-19 of the total sugarcane area in subtropical states. The variety was recommended in Uttar Pradesh during 2012 and since then it has increased to over 19.28 lakh hectares (69.02%) area during 2018-19. During the last five seasons, average cane yield and sugar recovery in Uttar Pradesh has increased to 80.5 t/ha and 11.46% from 61.6 t/ha and 9.18%, respectively during 2012-13, i.e. an increase of 18.9 t/ha and 2.28 units in cane yield and sugar recovery, respectively.

During 2018-19, the highest sugar recovery of 12.52% was recorded by the sugar mills located in Barkatpur and Kumbhi followed by 12.46% in Sneh Road sugar mill. A total of 24 sugar mills recorded ≥12.0% sugar recovery in UP whereas another 52 sugar mills recorded sugar recovery between 11.0% and 11.9%. For the first time in the history of sugar industry in sub-tropical India, on-date sugar recovery of 14.01% was recorded by M/s Bajaj Hindustan Ltd., Bilai (UP) on April 3, 2019 with 96 % area under Co 0238.

In a further step to meet the varietal requirements of the country, the Institute has released and notified 8 varieties viz. Co 09004, Co 06022, Co 10026, Co 11015 (early maturing), Co 0212, Co 06034, Co 09022 and Co 12029 (midlate maturing) for commercial cultivation in Peninsular and North West Zones. Of the above varieties, Co 0212, Co 06022 and Co 11015 have been released for Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

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