Syngenta introduces tropical sugar beet for food and biofuels
Syngenta has introduced sugar beet in India for cultivation in tropical climatic conditions. Tropical sugar beet brings significant agronomic, environmental and output advantages to Indian farming and the Indian economy. The beet delivers similar output yields to sugar cane and can be used both for processing sugar for food and conversion to bio-ethanol.
The new sugar beet can be grown in relatively dry areas with substantially less water than typically required by sugar cane. It is faster growing and can be harvested after five months allowing farmers to grow a second crop on the same land, thus increasing agricultural output and raising farmer income.
Syngenta is engaged in two tropical sugar beet projects:
- Sugar for food: at Ambad near Jalna, Maharashtra, Samarth Cooperative Sugar Mill has commissioned a pilot plant for processing tropical beet in co-operation with the Vasantdada Sugar Institute. First harvests delivered the expected high yield of top-quality sugar;
- Sugar for fuel: at Kalas, near Pune, Syngenta co-operates with over 12,000 farmers linked to Harneshwar Agro Products, Power and Yeast Ltd, which built and operates a bio-ethanol production plant processing Syngenta tropical beet. The faster growth of tropical beets increases annual ethanol output over sugar cane.
“The Indian government is highly interested in Syngenta’s technological capabilities to support growth of India’s agricultural sector”, said Hon. Mr Sharad Pawar, India’s Minister for Food and Agriculture. “The successful introduction of sugar beet leads to higher sugar output available for food and energy in a shorter period and using less water. I am sure the Indian sugar industry will happily work together with Syngenta to further optimize the crop and introduce it to growers across the country.”
Robert Berendes, Head of Business Development at Syngenta added: “This is a unique project that benefits growers, consumers and the environment. It is an outstanding example of the application of our technology to enhancing agricultural productivity under conditions of climatic stress.”
Development of tropical sugar beet took over ten years, building on Syngenta’s extensive breeding know-how and technology base. The company will explore use of tropical sugar beet in other tropical regions with poor soil conditions.
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