Sugarcane is an important commercial multipurpose crop that provides useful by-products such as sugar, jaggery, ethanol, etc. Sugarcane farming is the backbone of agriculture in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.
The sugarcane farmers in the District were facing several problems such as poor soil health, high input cost, fragmented land holdings, lack of technology, intensive use of resources (water and labour), effects of climate change and sudden increase in pest and diseases. As a result, sugarcane yield and farmer returns were highly inadequate. The issues faced by farmers were discussed among the officials of Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA).
ATMA took a prompt action to provide relief to the farmers and launched the Sustainable Sugarcane Production Technology Project. The project was implemented with the support of farmers’ groups which are registered under ATMA as well as other agencies.
The project comprised an innovative set of agronomic practices that involved using fewer seeds, raising seedlings in a nursery, following new planting methods with wider plant spacing, and better water and nutrient management to increase the cane yields significantly. The project was successfully implemented through encouraging participation of farmers, private sector and cooperatives.
The hallmark of the project is the empowerment of farmers as entrepreneurs. The farmer groups were trained on the sustainable sugarcane production technology.
Due to entrepreneurship training to group leaders and farmers, nurseries have been
established in eastern talukas of Kolhapur District successfully.
Unity is strength. This old saying is best exemplified through this project. The farmer groups, as well as group leaders, took an active participation in the project implementation. The group leaders created awareness about seedling plantation among member farmers. The groups also ensured timely supply of seedlings. As a result, about 500 groups of farmers adopted this technology.
The impact of this innovative transformation can be gauged by its bottom-up approach and participatory process that imparted entrepreneurship skills to farmers and conserved resources. In Kolhapur, farmers are entrepreneurs now.