Efforts are on to convince sugarcane growers and sugar factory representatives to go in for mechanisation in view of the scarce labour and rising cost in Karnataka’s sugar bowl, Mandya, and other sugarcane-growing districts of the state.
Technicians from New Holland and John Deere Pvt Ltd, India participated in a recent workshop and presented their machineries available to suit Indian condition for harvesting of sugarcane.
They also elaborated on these harvesters working in different states in India and their present status.
The occasion was a workshop on ‘Mechanical Harvesting in Sugarcane: Hurdles & Remedies’, organised by Bharat Ratna Sir M Visvesvaraya Sugarcane Research Institute (MVSRI), Mandya, in Mysore. The workshop was attended by representatives of sugar factories in Karnataka.
Due to an increased shortage of labour for cane harvesting, the need for introducing mechanical harvester for sugarcane is becoming vital. Mechanical harvesters will help cane farmers and sugar industry to achieve better results and cut costs.
The workshop discussed the wider row plantation and sub-surface irrigation in sugarcane. It was felt that sugarcane can be planted without compromising the cane yield even up to 4 to 5 feet row distance which suits cane harvesters.
Nagarajappa, Chairman, My Sugar Co. Ltd, Mandya suggested manufactures of harvesting machinery to modify their harvesters as to suit to the Southern conditions of cane growing. R T Patil, Chairman of Karnatak Co-Operative Sugar Factories, Bangalore, observed the need was to work out cheaper and viable harvesting machines to cut cane which would be to the advantage of sugarcane growers. This would help them reduce dependency on manual labour.
“The over-dependence on labour is leading to exploitation of cane growers,” said Patel, V N Associate Director of Research, V C Farm, Mandya.
Munaguli of Maddur explained that wetland in South Karnataka was a major constraint and hence this issue along with smaller holdings required to be sorted out too.
R B Khandagave, MVSRI Director, mentioned that mill owners often experienced loss of huge amounts advanced to the harvesting labourers due to unhealthy practices by the latter. Additionally, farmers were asked to pay extra charges by the harvesting labourers especially during summer months and when there is abundant cane. Hence, the workshop was organised to deliberate on mechanical harvesting in sugarcane, to share on the hurdles faced by the sugar mills in adopting mechanical harvesting in sugarcane and practical solutions to these problems, including analysing its economics, he said.