Any problem affecting the sugar sector is a widespread problem, affecting the livelihoods of a significant number of households and ecosystems.
First National Seminar on Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI)
at Coimbatore
24th and 25th August 2011
India is the second largest sugarcane producer in the world. Sugar is a Rs. 30,000 crore (€5 billion) industry and represents the principal livelihood of 35 million farmers. Another 50 million depend on employment generated by 571 sugar factories and other related industries using sugar.
Yet sugarcane cultivation and the sugar industry in India are facing serious economic, environmental, and social challenges. Even as raw sugar prices are rising, increasing costs of cultivation and poor yields are making sugarcane cultivation economically unviable for farmers. The problem is further aggravated by the low Support Minimum Price offered by the government, which has production costs surpassing incomes. Environmental issues like declining water table and degradation of soil pose major threats to cane farmers. As a result, smallholder farmers are shifting to more profitable crops, leading to sharp falls in sugarcane area.
Challenges to the Sugarcane Industry
Sugar mills face multiple problems. Sugarcane area is dwindling, leading to under-utilization of crushing machines, from inadequate supplies of canes. Competition from more profitable crops like rice and maize makes it difficult to convince farmers to accept the low price offered by mills. An increase in Jaggery prices is also threatening cane supplies to mills. Due to a high seed rate and insufficient availability of quality seed material, coverage of target areas is difficult. Low sugar recovery is another problem as is labour scarcity, especially at the time of harvest. And where labour is available, labourers demand high wages. Mechanization is not possible due to the close spacing of seeds.
Problems of Sugarcane Growers
Issues with millers
Promising Solutions -
The Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI)

The Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) is an innovative set of agronomic practices that involves using less seeds, raising seeds in a nursery, and following new planting methods, with wider seed spacing, and better water and nutrient management to increase the cane yields significantly.
SSI methods can increase sugarcane yields by at least 20% with 30% less water and a 25% reduction in chemical inputs.
The SSI method of sugarcane cultivation was evolved from the principles of ‘More with Less’ followed in SRI (System of Rice Intensification) and introduced in India by the WWF-ICRISAT collaborative project in 2009.
Benefits of SSI to farmers
Benefits of SSI to millers
To address the problems of the sugar industry, write to AgSri:,
A sugarcane SSI-google group has been initiated for information sharing and exchange.We invite you to join this group by following the link:
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