Sugarcane farming is one of the most important segments in Indian agriculture. Over 50 million growers find livelihood through this crop supplying to the sugar industry, for which India ranks 2nd in the world economy. Maharashtra, the largest sugarcane belt in the country, suffers from unpredictable monsoons as well as low farmer yields (80T/HA), which can be largely attributed to unsustainable farming practices such as poor irrigation, lack of proper care for the soil, use of manual labor and related costs. However, over one-third of the yield comes from medium hold sugarcane farmers, indicating that building their capacity on sustainable practices and smart mechanization will work wonders to increase the overall yield of sugarcane.
ASSIST, SDF and DEG have partnered to implement Smart 4 Green – a structured project meant to sensitize sugarcane farmers on good agricultural practices, packaged into a practical and sustainable guide and coupled with a level of mechanization, that can help enhance the sugarcane farming sector and revive livelihood in these areas. The key objectives of the project are increasing awareness on 4 feet sugarcane plantation methods, upgrading farmer capacity on sustainable farming and smart mechanization, value chain enhancement through dealer training and ensuring the presence of continued support for farmers.
This project aims to support sugarcane farmers in the adoption of sustainable practices and smart mechanization through numerous interventions and partnerships with local academic institutions, government agencies, and financial service providers. A Farmer Help Centre for sugarcane farmers will be set up to provide continuous support and consultation. Pilot demonstration farms using the improved operations will be established, closely monitored and showcased for the sugarcane farmers who will also be undergoing training sessions. By the end of this project, sugarcane farmers in Maharashtra will understand the benefit and utilize advanced farming practices and mechanization, strengthening India’s sugarcane value chain and the overall agricultural sector.