Much of the variety improvement research in Sugarcane has focused on traits of ‘yield’, ‘sucrose content’ or ‘tolerance to diseases and pests’.
Little focus has been on ‘climate resilient’ variety. The research on climate resilience has been restricted to few characteristics like ‘developing drought resistance’ or ‘focusing on the length of growing seasons’.
About the organisation
Solidaridad Asia works with sugarcane farmers, millers, processors, agri input suppliers and other actors in the supply chain to build sustainable food systems. It works with mills in three states of India - Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh to disseminate best practices to farmers.
Several researches have confirmed the effect of climate change on sugarcane yield as well as reduction in the sucrose content due to varying degrees of rainfall and temperature at specific growth stages. Different adaptation measures such as improved farm management practices, efficient irrigation systems, crop planning etc. have been promoted. However, in a country like India, which has low adaptive capacity and is highly vulnerable to hazards, there is need to look at varieties which are resilient to impacts of climate change.
Description of the challenge
The impact of climate change translates to industry wide impacts and has economic consequences across the sugarcane value chain. The three regions of India (Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh) have also experienced weather events such as erratic rainfall particularly the duration of rainfall has squeezed whereas the intensity of rainfall has become high. This pattern would have long term effect on the soil (higher runoff leading to loss of soil) as well as the biodiversity. However, not much varieties have been developed which have enhanced tolerance to delayed monsoon without affecting the cane yield.
Key sustainability issues
- Insufficient research on climate resilient varieties.
- Though some varieties have been developed with drought tolerant characteristics (early vigor, leaf senescence and stay green traits) but varieties are needed which show enhanced tolerance to delayed monsoon.
- Availability of sufficient quantity of seeds is another major sustainability issue for farmers for sustaining the production system.
For who and how it works
Finding solutions to this challenge will help the scientific and research community, as well as the farmers who can use climate resilient varieties as an adaptation measure to fight climate change. This would also help farmers group or companies which undertake seed production business.
We are open for R&D collaborations on “developing climate resilient sugarcane varieties”. Small scale demonstrations are also encouraged with scientific data for comparisons and analysis.