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Organic Farming in Sugarcane

Organic farming is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including bio-diversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It emphasizes the use of management practices using naturally available resources. This is accomplished by using agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials.

Organic jaggeryThere is a growing demand from the consumers for the organically grown food materials due to increasing awareness about the harmful effects of food materials produced using agro-chemicals. Sugar constitutes a component of food items such as confectioneries, beverages, sweets, snacks etc. In organic food items, the sugar used is to be of organic origin. Hence there is a need for organically produced sugar. To produce organic sugar, organically grown sugarcane is a prerequisite.

A study on organic farming of sugarcane conducted at the Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore indicated that productivity could be sustained under organic farming provided the entire dose of nutrients could be applied through organics.

In addition, sugarcane being the efficient converter of solar energy into utilizable biomass and the inter / mixed crops like pulses, green manure crops, spices like coriander and onion, and vegetables grown with sugarcane also produce considerable quantity of biomass not only for increased income of the farmer, but also for incorporation and recycling of crop residues for improving soil fertility for sustainable productivity of sugarcane.

The economics of production of organic sugarcane was worked out at Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore. The increased cost was about 50 per cent higher as compared to conventional sugarcane production system. The increased cost is mainly due to the cost of organic manures in the form of farm yard manure. It is possible to reduce the cost of cultivation through the use of on-farm composts, recycling of crop residues, raising livestock and mixed farming and vermi-composting. As premium prices are offered for the organically produced foods including organic sugar this could offset higher production costs and provide increased returns.

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