1. Agriculture World

Sugar Beet - An Alternative to Sugarcane

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan
british sugar bioethanol

The two tenders floated by oil marketing companies (OMC) for procurement of ethanol during Ethanol Supply Year (Dec 2019 to Nov 2020), mills & standalone distilleries have offered to supply 1630 million litres (ML) of ethanol, of which 103.8 ML will come from cane juice, 625.8 ML from ‘B’ heavy molasses, 863.9 ML from ‘C’ heavy molasses and 37.8 ML from damaged food grain. According to ISMA DG, Abinash Verma, the supply of 730 ML of ethanol from cane juice and ‘B’ heavy molasses is double of what was supplied in ESY 2018-19. As such, the diversion of sugar into ethanol is higher. There is another tender expected shortly from the OMCs, against which more quantities of ethanol are expected to be offered to the OMCs for 2019-20 ESY.

The negative impact on sugar production owing to ethanol diversion during the entire season will be limited to nearly 850,000 tonnes only.

The developed countries found alternative crops over than sugarcane, and also had cultivation to the production of sugar from it, to accomplish public requirement and to improve the country economy by export. Further, sugar beet is one of the better choices for the production of sugar that it contains enough amounts (16 - 20 percent ) of sucrose over than in sugarcane. Sugar beet is one of the main sugar crops in the world which has outsized importance to fulfill the requirement of market for sugar supply scarcity. In addition to the intended product, sugar beet sucrose gives by products like sugar beet pulp, and molasses that plays a vital role in filling energy gap, especially as an excellent alternative resource of green energy. In the search for sustainability and economic value, the complete utilization of the crop is necessary for maximum sugar yield, profitable plant operation and for efficient bio-fuel production like ethanol.

sugar beet

Besides sugar yield and bio-fuel based energy generation, sugar beets can also provide many value-added co-products like human nutrition, plastics, animal feed, carbonized material used to remove heavy metals in water and wastewater treatment as eco-friendly manner and in pharmaceuticals. So, in this concern this review focus and suggests the sugar beet is an alternative crop for the production of sugar and regeneration bio-fuel like ethanol for our nation and leads to emphasis the research thematic area in near future for the researchers.

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) has decided to undertake experimental trials on sugar beet at 6 of its research stations - Melalathur, Cuddalore, Sirugamani and Vaigai Dam besides its campuses in Coimbatore and Madurai during this Rabi season (starting November- December).

The effort is aimed at evaluating and adjudging the crop performance as an alternative to sugarcane, said N Kumar, Vice Chancellor, TNAU.

Speaking on the sidelines of a ‘National Conference on Sugar Cane – Is there any alternative?’ organized jointly by the National Rainfed Authority of India, New Delhi and Global AgriSystem Private Ltd (GAPL), Kumar said: “Cane production has come under attack due to water and labour shortage on the one hand, (long) crop duration and poor returns for the farmer, on the other, forcing research institutions such as TNAU to find an alternative.

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“Sugar beet is a four-and-a-half-month crop, is less water intensive and cost effective. We did research on sugar beet between 2005 and 2015 and documented the performance of a few hybrids. Our average production ranged between 35 and 40 tonnes / hectare.

“With Belgium-based SesVanderHave developing varieties suitable for tropical conditions and offering to supply seeds of 6 to 7 varieties of sugar beet for free, we plan to test and evaluate the performance in the six locations on a trial basis, without further delay,” Kumar said.

Gokul Pattnaik, Chairman, GAPL, said there was surplus surplus sugarcane production in the country, necessitating the need for rationalizing the production besides promoting alternative crops such as sugar beet, which has great potential for sugar production and bio-fuel.

Shivajirao Deshmukh, Director-General, Vasanthdada Sugar Institute, Pune, said that sugar beet was being raised on about 300 acres in Maharashtra.

“We are looking at mills to lead the way. Mills will need a diffuser and the Government is willing to give a soft loan from the Sugarcane Development Fund to facilitate sugarbeet crushing. The institute has developed a processing plant,” he added.

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