Sugarcane has been grown in India since time immemorial; it finds its earliest reference in temple architecture 3000 BC. It was a crop that enjoyed a very high status and was used extensively in religious ceremonies and medicine.
The sugarcane industry employs over 55 million people – directly and indirectly. The products and by-products of sugarcane are massive revenue generators for the country. Thus, it is only natural that breeding programs for sugarcane play as important a role in the sugar and co products industries as they do in ensuring the survival of farmers.
With access to over 1700 varieties of germplasm – the basis of the breeding program – it is safe to say that Sadhana has in its hands a tried & tested, and successful tool for the development of sugarcane varieties for commercialization and co-products manufacture.
Apart from widening the genetic base using wild species such as Erianthus, Sclerostachya and S.spontaneum, it is our top priority to obtain breeds that are tolerant to adverse weather conditions and are adaptable to various soil types as well.
As with everything in life, sugarcane breeding too demands a balance – of sweetness and volume. Volume means everything to the farmer, for that is what earns him his daily bread; while it is the sugar content in the sugarcane that keeps the mill running, for the miller.
That is why, our team of scientists focus on breeding varieties that have high sucrose content as well as increase yield per acre. Not only that, the varieties are bred to be pest and disease resistant, resilient enough to be amenable to mechanization, use less water, require lesser nutrients, adapt themselves to the weather as well as soil types and possess good agronomic and milling characteristics.
Core Germplasm Collection
Sadhana’s impressive collection of about 1700 varieties of germplasm is the foundation of our successful breeding program. Two farms at Malavalli – one near Mandya and another near Arehalli – in Bangalore house the germplasm. The conducive climate at the farms, owing to higher elevations, helps the sugarcane (about 95% of the varieties) to flower.
The last three years have seen about 249 varieties of sugarcane being supplied to our members. Many of these varieties are performing very well; in fact, varieties such as SI 2010-309, SI 2010-322, SI 2010-313 and SI 2010-318 are set to reach commercial grades owing to their high yielding crop with high sugar content in the juice.