From the Desk of the Director General

I have great pleasure in presenting this 37th Annual Report of the Institute for the year 2012-13, summarizing the important activities of the Institute. The major achievements are highlighted below.

With the establishment of Sugarcane Breeding Center at Amboli, the hybridization and selection programme of the Institute proceeded with increased momentum. The Institute has obtained wild species and inter–specific hybrids developed over the years by the Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore which are being utilized extensively in crosses with commercial cultivars to enrich the breeding pool of germplasm with the result that many new clones are at different stages of selection. The genetic base of the breeding lines is being widened for using interspecific hybrids. During the crossing period of this season, around 190 crosses were made and large number of seedlings were raised for planting second ground nursery at different locations to test their adaptability for drought, salinity and water logging. Large number of elite clones were identified and the hybridity of the seedlings was ascertained through cytological and morphological studies.

An elite clone CoVSI 03102 was identified and pre-released in the state for general cultivation. This is a unique clone combining high cane yield, high sucrose content and tolerance to drought and lodging. Final evaluation and seed multiplication for trials of this clone at different locations is in progress.

The variety VSI 434 developed through biotechnology was released in Joint AGRESCO held at PDKV, Akola in May, 2012. This variety possesses specific features such as very early maturity of ten months, high sucrose content, drought tolerance and moderate resistance to red rot. This variety is most suitable for crushing in the initial period and closing period of the crushing season. The unique feature of this variety is that the sucrose content does not diminish up to 14-15 months age of the crop. Six more promising genotypes developed through tissue culture are under evaluation for sucrose content and yield. The tissue culture section continues to produce around 1.5 million plantlets annually as breeders’ seed for developing a sound base of disease-free seed programme.

With increasing cost of fertilizers, sugarcane cultivation is becoming expensive and it is imperative to increase the efficiency of fertilizer through integration of fertigation, bioinoculants and sprays of multinutrients. The Institute continues to provide services of soil testing and technical knowhow for establishing soil testing laboratories at sugar mills. The demand of inimitable formulated multinutrient liquid fertilizers for foliar application is increasing continuously.

The application of Metribuzine @ 1.25 kg a.i./ha as a pre-emergence spray after planting followed by post-emergence spray of 2,4-D @ 1 kg a.i./ha at 75 days after planting is recommended for management of binding weeds in sugarcane. This recommendation was accepted in Joint AGRESCO in May, 2012.

The Institute has developed consortia of endophytic nitrogen fixing bacterial liquid bioinoculant comprising of Glucanoacetobactor, Burkholderia, Herbaspirillum, Azoarcus and Azospirillum to fulfill the nitrogen requirement of sugarcane. Research is in progress to increase the availability of silicon in soil by using silicate solubilizing bacterial liquid bioinoculant.

The collaborative project of ICAR, New Delhi, VSI Pune and M/s Rane Industrial Ovens and Agro Machineries Pvt. Ltd., Pune on “Development of sugarcane harvester suitable for Indian conditions” has been completed and commercialized. The first chopper sugarcane harvester has been sold to a farmer in Satara district of the state. Under this project, whole cane as well as chopper cane harvesters have been designed and developed.

The Institute has given utmost importance to the supply of quality seed to the mills. It is of great importance to have disease-free quality seed and meticulous planning has been done to strengthen three-tier system of seed programme. It is a matter of pride that every year, the demand for seed from the mills is on the rise. The present available land with the Institute is not sufficient to cope with the increasing demand of breeders’ seed. Therefore, the Institute has identified about 40 ha land for development of breeders’ seed. It is expected that the Institute will be able to acquire this land shortly to enable to expand seed supply programme.

Due to drought conditions, it was feared that there will be acute shortage of quality seed for the coming planting season. Therefore, the Institute organized a workshop of all the agriculture officers of sugar mills in the state and formulated the action plan for the production of quality seed. I am happy to state that all the mills participated wholeheartedly in this programme and I am sure that there will not be any shortage of planting material for the season 2013-14.

Presently, cane payment to the grower is done on the basis of cane weight, whereas the Central Government announces cane price i.e Fare and Remunerative Price (FRP) on the basis of sugar content. With the result, the grower gets the price without any relevance to the sugar content in cane. This system of payment on weight is counterproductive for the growth of sugarcane having better sugar content. Therefore, the growers are inclined to cultivate cane which gives higher yields in terms of weight only.

The system of sugar sampling established in other countries cannot be replicated in India. The Institute is engaged in developing a automatic Direct Cane Sampling and Analysis System (DCSAS) for cane payment based on quality aspects suitable to Indian conditions.

Under the guidance of VSI, M/s. Saino Engineering Works Ltd., Mumbai has developed a cane sampler and trials are being conducted at Narmada Sugar, Gujarat and results are quite encouraging.

With successful implementation of this project,

Growers will get payment based on quality of cane.
Growers will be inclined to produce quality cane with higher sucrose content.
Mills will be benefited by quality cane.
Higher yield of sugar per hectare will be achieved.
As a part of need based and demand driven research and development programme, the department of sugar engineering has stepped up research activities and analysis of cane diffuser technology, air cooled condensers for cogeneration projects, reactive power compensation, energy efficient motors for continuous centrifugals and audit for specific steam consumption of high pressure steam turbines.

The installation and pre-commissioning trials of the state-of- the-art pilot scale winery are completed for imparting hands-on training to MSc (Wine, Brewing & Alcohol Technology) and Alcohol Technology students.

Laboratory scale automated fermenters were installed for research and development activities related to syngas fermentation and second generation bio-fuels. Positive Material Investigation (PMI) machine was procured for faster detection of metal alloy components which will be used for testing of equipments of distilleries and sugar mills.

The training capabilities of the Institute have gained national and international recognition. For the second successive year, the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation and Fiji Sugar Corporation entrusted the training of their technologists, engineers and agriculture scientists to VSI.

The Vice-President of the Institute, Hon. Mr. Shivajirao Patil, was awarded “Padmabhushan” for his dedicated service in co-operative movement in India and we all in VSI are very proud of this event.

It is a matter of great pleasure and honour for me to work under the guidance of the President. I place on record the support and advice received from the Vice-President, Trustees and Members of the Governing Council in carrying out the assignments of this Institute. I am also thankful for the support of Central Government Departments, State Government Departments, Research Organizations, University of Pune, Shivaji University and Agricultural Universities. I am really grateful to the scientists, technologists and engineers for their conscientious efforts and entire staff of VSI for their involvement and proactive role in research, education and extension activities. Without their support and trust, nothing could have been accomplished in pursuit of well-being of the farming community.

Shivajirao Deshmukh
Director General