Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) family Gramineae (Poaceae) is a widely grown crop in India. Sugarcane, a perennial grass, belonging to bamboo family, provides employment to over a million people directly or indirectly besides contributing significantly to the national exchequer. India is the world’s second-largest sugar producer after Brazil. China, Thailand, Pakistan and Mexico are the other major Sugarcane producers in the world.
Sugar cane originated in New Guinea where it has been known for thousands of years. Sugar cane plants spread along human migration routes to Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Here it cross-bred with some wild sugar cane relatives to produce the commercial sugar cane we know today.
The cultivated canes belong to two main groups: (a) thin, hardy north Indian types S. barberi and S. Sinense and (b) thick, juicy noble canes Saccharum officinarum. Highly prized cane is S. officinarum.
Sugarcane is the main source of sugar, jaggery and khandsari. Sugarcane provides a juice, which is used for making white sugar, and jaggery (gur) and many by products like bagasse and molasses. About two-thirds of the total sugarcane produced in India is consumed for making jaggery and khandsari and only one third of it goes to sugar factories. It also provides raw material for manufacturing alcohol.
Important Regions for Sugarcane Cultivation
Broadly there are two distinct agro-climatic regions of sugarcane cultivation in India, viz., tropical and subtropical. Tropical region shared about 45% and 55% of the total sugarcane area and production in the country, while sub-tropical region accounted for about 55% and 45% of total area and production of sugarcane.
The tropical sugarcane region consists of the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Pondicherry and Kerala. On the other hand, northern states like of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Punjab come under sub-tropical sugarcane region. Maharashtra is largest producer of sugar in India and it contributes about 34% of sugar in the country. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka together account for nearly 80 percent of the total sugar production in the country.
According to the Government’s Second Advance Estimates of production of major crops for the year 2021-22, the total production of Sugarcane in the country during 2021-22 is estimated at 414.04 million tonnes which is higher by 40.59 million tonnes than the average sugarcane production of 373.46 million tonnes.
Sugarcane – All India Area and Production
Ideal Soil and Climate
Sugarcane is cultivated all over the country from latitude 80 N to 330 N, except cold hilly areas like Kashmir valley, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh.
Well drained, deep, loamy soil with ground water table below 1.5-2 m from the soil surface with adequate water holding capacity is ideal for sugarcane cultivation. It can tolerate considerable degree of acidity and alkalinity so it can be grown on soil, ranging from 5 to 8.5. If soil is low in pH (less than 5) add lime in soil and for high pH (more than 9.5) do gypsum application. Sugarcane takes generally one year to mature therefore called as Eksali.
India exported sugar to 121 countries across the globe including countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sudan, U.A.E, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Nepal, China, USA, Singapore, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, France, New Zealand, Denmark, Israel, Russia, Egypt, etc.
Sugar Exports from India
Source: Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Govt. of India