SUGARCANE INDUSTRY

FAIZA HAI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Sep 24 - 30, 20
12

Sugar and sugarcane is an essential part of daily use products recently its farming increase in many regions of the world. Currently about 70% of the world's supply of sugar is derived from sugarcane, the remaining is 30% which is derived from sugar beet, the vast majority of which is produced in industrialized country. Sugarcane is mainly grown for sugar, sugary productions and other essential items like chip board, paper, barrages, confectionery, and also uses in chemicals, plastics, paints, synthetics, fiber, insecticides and detergents. Besides producing white sugar as a major component of cane it is used in the production of "Gur", "Shakar" and "Khandsari" sugar.

In the last decade India produced over 289 million tones of sugar cane, Pakistan 52 million tones and Bangladesh 6 million tones. It is not only an important cash crop of Pakistan but also an important source of income and employment for the farmers of country. According to a recent research sugarcane is considered as an important crop that accounts for 65% of the global sugar production. Sugarcane farming and sugar manufacturing contribute significantly to the national exchequer in the form of various taxes and levies. Sugar manufacturing and its by-products have contributed significantly towards the foreign exchange resources through import substitution.

Substantial increases in yields have occurred over the past 100 years due to improved cultivation and breeding of higher-yielding varieties. Sugarcane plantation needs care and attention the Sugar cane plantations are usually established in spring, by planting stem cuttings in fields. As they start growing, the stems multiply at the base, often producing a cluster of 2 or 3 stems. The stems thrive in full sunshine, and as they mature the sugar content increases. Cut sugar cane re-grows, so plantations last for many years without having to replant. Stems are usually harvested at the age of about 11-14 months. The stems are usually cut manually and are bundled to be taken to a sugar mill in Pakistan but some countries are introducing special machines for the cutting process to make it fast and more advance. Canes are shredded and crushed with heavy rollers to retrieve the juice which contains 10-20% sucrose.

This juice named Sucrose, which is dull green and murky, is sieved to filter out some of the impurities. The vast majority of cane sugar commercially produced today is known as 'centrifugal'. With this process, the pH is raised with lime and the mixture is heated to around 100 degrees centigrade for several hours after this process the lime causes suspended materials, proteins, waxes, and fats to separate out. Therefore further impurities are allowed to settle in large containers and are removed from the bottom. This residue is known as filter-cake or press-mud. The clear juice is evaporated off to form crystals. Sugar crystals are separated from the molasses, or brown syrup, by centrifugation. The sugar produced in raw, and brown specialties are demerara and muscovado.

This raw brown sugar can be refined to produce white sugar, which is almost 100 per cent sucrose. This usually happens in the country of import. Icing sugar is manufactured by pulverizing refined sugar in a mill. It is mostly used for confectionery and for cakes, pastries and other baked products. The sugar industry must spearhead the research and development efforts so as to meet its raw material requirements.

In Pakistan Sugar industry is mostly located in the rural areas of Punjab and Sindh. A small percentage of total production is produced in the NWFP. Previously, Punjab was partly dependent on supply of sugar from Sindh, but lately the establishment of some large-scale units in Punjab has made the Province self-Sufficient in the commodity.

According to rough estimate the farmers are using one fourth of chemical fertilizer against the sugarcane crop requirements due to non-availability as well as high cost of the same. Apart from this haphazard use of fertilizer brings no fruit and therefore the farmers do not get the crops to their expectations. The very important job getting the soil tested before the use of any particular fertilizer is not practiced in our country.

The sugarcane harvest season is at its peak in Pakistan and overloaded tractor-trolleys can be seen on narrow roads carrying the raw materials to sugar mills for crushing and processing into white refined sugar. In 2010-2011 sugar production is forecast at 3.65 million tones up about three per cent from the current year estimate of 3.56 million tones, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service the Consumption is forecast at 4.35 million tones and imports at 730,000 tones. Trial production of sugar beet has proven successful but industry is reluctant to encourage expanded production due to technical and administrative challenges. Pakistan's sugar industry produces more than half a million tons of ethanol per annum from cane molasses, over 50 per cent of which is exported to Europe, Far East and Middle East countries.

To make the sugarcane industry better and to grow more exports there are many recommendations specifically the marketing of the produce, raw material as well as end product, has emerged a key issue requiring serious attention of the government. The market imperfections must be removed through marketing efficiency and institutionalization of market intelligence.

The recurring water shortage is posing a serious challenge to the large scale cultivation of Sugarcane being highly water consumptive crop. It is in the interest of industry and farmers to curtail its area but promote the cultivation of improved varieties with rational use of Inputs and improved crop management. The sugarcane is highly water consumptive crop.

The present flat rate system is allocated neutral leading to misallocation of this scarce resource. Therefore, the water pricing of is imperative for its rational use. The vertical integration rather than horizontal expansion of the sugar industry is the need of the hour. The value added products e.g. spirits, yeast, acetic acid, citric acid, glucose etc., must be produced .The development of these products would help reduce the cost of sugar which remains the principal produce.