Sugar sector

Virendra Singh Rawat
Lucknow / Nov 30, 2021

India is among the top sugarcane and sugar producers globally, yet occasional market glut and seasonal fluctuations have perennially kept the policymakers on tenterhooks to balance the farmers’ interests with that of the consumers and sugar industry.

Needless to mention, it has never been easy for the successive governments or those at helm of the concerned departments at the Centre or the state levels.

One of the foremost prescriptions forwarded by experts has been to diversify the sugarcane value chain beyond the staple basket of sugar.

Over the past few years, the government has been vigorously following up with the ethanol agenda to divert excess sugarcane crop into green fuel production to remunerate farmers as well as cut emissions and snip the oil import bill. However, a lot more needs to be done.

Joining this overarching roadmap, Kanpur-based National Sugar Institute (NIS) has now collaborated with Mysore-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI). The two premier central labs will jointly carry out research on developing technologies for producing food items other than sugar for greater economic sustainability of the sugar industry worldwide.

“Collaborative research work will also be carried out to develop innovative value added food products from by-products of the cane sugar industry,” NIS director Prof Narendra Mohan said.

He said the two institutes, one related with sugar technology and other with food technology would explore ways to convert the conventional sugar factories into ‘agribusiness complexes’ producing a range of food items other than sugar.

Initially, the institutes will work on developing technologies for producing low calorie
sweetener and dietary fibre from bagasse (a sugar byproduct), non-chemical fortified jaggery and special sugars to meet requirement of food processing industry and other sectors.

“In addition, the two institutes shall strive to develop technology for natural cane juice preservation and packaging, so that a natural and healthier drink may be provided to the society,” Mohan said adding the R&D work will start from January 2022.

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